9 items from 2014
Surrealism as a cinematic genre goes further back in time than some people may realise. Although many contemporary films are described as ‘being Surreal’ or as having ‘Surrealist qualities’, the original films go back to the early 1900s and peaked during the 1920s. This was the era when the movement was at its peak and artists including Salvador Dalí and directors like Luis Buñuel were at their most active. The films made during this time have infiltrated popular culture in a variety of ways and, although you may not have seen the originals, you will have likely seen them homaged in works by Alfred Hitchcock, episodes of The Simpsons and films by David Lynch. Surrealism is all around us.
- Sabina Stent
As obsessed with bodily fluids as it is with social awkwardness, The Inbetweeners, be it on TV or the big screen, determinedly sets out to make viewers laugh until a bit of lung comes out. And with The Inbetweeners 2 now taking the boys, ahem, down under for more sexual shenanigans in Australia, the gross-out levels are set to soar (or plummet, depending on your viewpoint).
But making audiences squint, wince and fight their gag reflexes has always been a part of cinema. Sometimes it's done for belly laughs (Cameron Diaz styling her hair with Ben Stiller's homemade gel in There's Something About Mary), sometimes to elicit feelings of shock or revulsion (Ray Liotta forced to dine on his own brain in Hannibal). And sometimes it does all of the above at once (an army of zombies being cut to dripping ribbons with a lawnmower in Peter Jackson's splatstick horror »
Pauline Kael may have dubbed David Lynch “the first popular surrealist,” but the honor is more accurately bestowed upon Spanish maestro Luis Buñuel. Though his Salvador Dalí collaboration, Un chien andalou (1929), is regarded as a touchstone of the movement, it was not until later in his career that Buñuel would exploit the very meaning of the surreal, brashly straying from his contemporaries’ aesthetically driven impulses. With the respectively never-ending and never-beginning dinner parties of his elliptical masterpieces The Exterminating Angel (1962) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Buñuel’s breed of Surrealism drew itself so close to the upper middle-class quotidian, it became far more subversive than any old melting clock. The conceptual hysteria of his films is in turn grounded by a simplified mise-en-scène; the surroundings are such that any outlandish yarn appears rooted in reality. »
- Sarah Salovaara
I love a good quest. There’s nothing that drives a plot quite like it, from Jason setting out to find the Golden Fleece to Indiana Jones’ determination to track down the Ark of the Covenant. Along the way there is always action, and adventure, and some friends to meet and enemies to defeat. Because that’s how a quest works.
Quests don’t have to be about objects. They can also be about finding your place in the world, and Nothing Lasts Forever tells the story of Adam Beckett, a young man who wants to be an artist, even though he has no idea of what an artist actually is. His quest takes him to a strange, totalitarian Manhattan where wannabe artists must sit a practical exam, and eventually to some very surprising places, »
Entertainment Geekly is a weekly column that examines pop culture through a geek lens and simultaneously examines contemporary geek culture through a pop lens. So many lenses!
Should we start with the music videos? Does anyone in college or younger understand why music videos were important? There was a significant portion of the ’90s spent agonizing over how cinema would be forever altered by the onrushing influx of young-turk hotshot music-video auteurs, and the quick-cut glitter-grit really-just-too-much style they brought along.
Now it’s 2014 and music videos are dead, unless you’re a bygone spiffy-clean tween star nakedly straddling a spheroid metaphor. »
- Darren Franich
The world is all out of whack: multiple Dutch tilts are on display in Voyage sans espoir (1943), an unbelievably glossy poetic realist proto-noir from Christian-Jaque: the film actually begins with railway tracks viewed from the front of a speeding train, upside down, as the camera drunkenly rolls upright and titles come flying towards us, slapping flat across the frame like flies hitting a windshield.
The plot is convoluted but crisp—chance encounters tie together Jean Marais, fleeing his job at a bank to see life and settle in Argentina, with an escaped jailbird of psychopathic demeanor (Paul Bernard) and his girlfriend, the radiant Simone Renant. There's also a likably crooked ship's captain carrying a torch for Renant, a sinister ethnic-type sailor (Ky Duyen), and a pair of hard-drinking but eternally sober detectives who resemble nothing more than the Thompson Twins from Tintin. The French had a nifty way with »
- David Cairns
It is one of Beckett's most famous – and most startling – images. But what inspired the half-buried woman in Happy Days? His friend and biographer James Knowlson tracks down the first Winnies
Samuel Beckett was a passionate lover of art and a friend of many painters and sculptors. He loved Dutch and Flemish painting in particular – and art almost certainly inspired some of his most memorable theatrical images. Even his earliest plays, such as Waiting for Godot or Endgame, recall the old masters: the character Lucky in Godot may well remind you of a Brueghel grotesque; Estragon and Vladimir's physical antics echo scenes in Adriaen Brouwer's paintings ("Dear, dear Brouwer", Beckett called him); Hamm in Endgame appears to share genes with some portraits by Rembrandt, staring out at the viewer – Jacob Trip in his armchair, perhaps.
As for Beckett's late miniature works – recently revived by the Royal Court with a tour »
We all have predisposed notions about the infamous “romantic comedy.” As with other genres, there’s a large subsection of offerings, giving it a bad name. But, for every tired, cliché-driven comedy, there is another impressive offering that redefines the genre, garners plenty of laughs, and tells an honest story about love and relationships, however warped they may be. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at the fifty romantic comedy films that should be seen. These may not all be classic films, but they certainly put a stamp on the industry and the genre we affectionately call “rom-coms.”
#50. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Most of Wes Anderson’s films could be described as romantic comedies, but his 2012 effort stands out, as its central story focuses on young love and the need to find acceptance. In Anderson’s world, while quirks abound, true connections between characters are commonplace. With Moonrise Kingdom, »
- Joshua Gaul
Morbid movies have been a feature of cinema from its earliest days, with films such as Nosferatu, Un Chien Andalou, L’age d’or and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. They were frowned upon by our moral guardians for being unwholesome, but it didn’t stop their proliferation down the decades. By the 1960s, many taboos of cinema – like nudity, gore and graphic sex – had been busted wide open, leaving filmmakers all over the world free to engage in an all manner of previously off-limits subjects.
The 1970s were flooded with morbid films, though – Straw Dogs, The Devils, Last Tango in Paris, Last House on the Left, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (just to name a few). These films gave the censors the run around, but they set a precedent for subsequent writers and directors to attain new heights of ghoulishness. There are no sacred cows left today »
- Clare Simpson
9 items from 2014
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