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It's funny because if Grotesque wasn't banned in the UK then I don't
think I would have bothered watching it. No one would probably have
even heard of Grotesque if the BBFC slapped an 18 certificate on it,
but because they refused it has turned into something of a cult hit.
It's a curiosity piece for connoisseurs of carnage but those looking to
get truly disturbed are likely to be disappointed. I don't quite
understand the reasons for the ban as Grotesque shows us nothing that
we haven't seen before. In fact, it's so over-the-top in its ideas and
execution that it's more likely to illicit laughs from viewers more
If you look at Kôji Shiraishi's earlier found footage horror, Noroi: The Curse then you'll find an expertly executed chiller that relies on atmosphere and imagery to produce genuine scares. Grotesque is pretty much the opposite to Noroi. I can't believe it's made by the same director as Noroi which is quite possibly the scariest film I have ever experienced. The only thing scary about Grotesque is how bad it is. To sum it up, it's two people in a room getting tortured by a psychopathic doctor. They were just walking back from their first date and a crazy man bops them on the head and they have to sexually excite him with their will to survive.
It's a terribly thin plot which only the thick and the psychotic would appreciate. Somehow though it isn't as boring as it sounds. It's only 70 minutes long but even still, a film set in one room with only three characters could easily drag, but Grotesque zips along quite merrily. This is the only redeeming quality of the film, it's never boring. But maybe that's because I was just waiting to see how far my cringe threshold could take. I won't spoil anything, but I was thrashing about like a that's sheep about to get sheared in a scene which involved an eye. I hate eyes and this scene is almost up there with Zombie Flesh Eaters.
It's just a series of gore scenes really and I have to say that the special effects are very good. The acting was also better than I was expecting, with the doctor being particularly menacing and convincing. It's also pretty well-made for the most part, although parts did look very amateur. In the end though Grotesque is just a pointless exercise in shock. It ends up being so melodramatic and ridiculous though that it just becomes funny.
Grotesque is worth one watch if you're curious and a hardened horror nut. Most people will know what their getting themselves into and at least there's more entertainment value in this than seriously sick stuff like the Guinea Pig and Slaughtered Vomit Dolls films. This one does have a dark sense of humour but the plot is non-existent and the characters are un-investable. The amount of gore and depravity is quite shocking at times but even still it's almost instantly forgettable as soon as the credits roll.
You might not think it to look at me but Ab Fab is my life. I've been
watching Absolutely Fabulous ever since I can remember. Me and my
sister have to watch Absolutely Fabulous in order to get through life.
I don't think there's any show on TV that feels fresher and more
hilarious the more you watch it apart from Ab Fab.
The film has to be my most anticipated film ever. Here are a few points just to give you an idea of how excited I was for Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie: I'm traveling Australia at the moment so I stayed up until 3am to watch the Leicester Square premiere on a live stream, I had at least four separate dreams about watching the film (one of them was a dream within a dream), I refused to watch the trailer in fear of it spoiling all the best bits and I entered every competition I could find to win tickets to the premiere in Sydney. I also won those tickets and spent about $600 to fly to Sydney in order to attend that premiere.
Attending that premiere was one of the greatest nights of my life. The whole experience was completely overwhelming. I'd just been within touching distance to two of my biggest idols in life (Jen and Jo if you hadn't have guessed) and then the film played. It was all too much to take in. Of course it was a total blast but it went by in a flash! I genuinely thought that it was halfway through but then the credits rolled and I was dumbfounded. I saw the film again a couple of days later just so I could properly assess it.
Obviously if you've read all of that jargon above then you'll know that this review is going to be horrendously biased. I will say though that if you've never seen an episode of Absolutely Fabulous then don't start with the film because it is made for the fans. Even if you're a causal fan, the chances are that you won't like the film. Jennifer definitely wrote this film for the hardcore fans and I take my hat off to her for that. It's a continuation of the series and it's all the better for it. Ab Fab has always moved forward so why should it stop now?
I watched the film in a theatre jam-packed with fans as big as me and there were massive laughs and cheers every minute at least. I've got to be honest and say that I wasn't entirely sure if it would work as a film. With all the celebrity cameos being announced it seemed like it could slide into the Mrs Brown's Boys D'movie route. Also Jennifer has never written a film before and film screenplays are very different to the telly. However, I can safely say that Absolutely Fabulous does completely work on the big screen. The cameos aren't as forced as I had feared, in fact many celebs end up playing actual roles instead of just themselves.
The film opens in the only way it could with Patsy and Eddy rocking up to a fashion show, getting blathered and stumbling back the next morning to straight-laced Saffy in a state that would make Lindsay Lohan blush. It's a stellar (or should I say Stella?) opening which basically sums up why we love Ab Fab in five minutes. From then on we're straight into an onslaught of fan favourite characters all wrapped up in a hysterical, albeit fairly loose, plot about Edina accidentally knocking Kate Moss into the Thames.
It has to be said that Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are absolutely on fire in their roles as the fabulous friends. A lot of reviewers seem shocked that they're still so good after 25 years but they've never really stopped playing these characters. People look at it as a show from the 90's and whilst the last full series aired in 2003, there have been specials leading all the way up to 2012 so all of the cast involved remain as fresh as ever. Joanna Lumley in particular shines in this film though. She's 70 years old and still has such impeccable comic timing and chews up every scene she's in despite not eating since 1973.
I was surprised at the amount of references and in-jokes included in the film for the fans but all of them were a delight. There are plenty of fresh jokes fired at you as well. The laughs come thick and fast, barely giving you time to breathe for 90 minutes! The film also moves at quite a nice pace in the first half, setting itself up for a proper comic caper but it never quite lives up to that promise. The film's marketed as "Patsy and Eddy on the run!" But without spoiling anything, this doesn't really happen. At first I was a little disappointed at the lack of momentum in the second half but on a second viewing I realised that a big chase movie really wouldn't be in the spirit of Ab Fab. It's always been more about sitting back with a bottle of bolly and this is what the film sticks to.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie isn't supposed to be taken seriously. It isn't going to sweep the Oscars and nor is it trying to. Jennifer Saunders has created a consistently hilarious romp for the fans. Most reviewers call the film over-stretched but if anything I found it a little rushed and under developed! There are plenty of plot points and new characters left unexplored to their full potential but hopefully all will be resolved in the inevitable sequel. It's not the best film ever made but It's definitely one of those films which you can watch again and again and still find hilarious. For hardcore fans of the show, this is a comedy classic.
Every self-respecting weird person who's looking to get disturbed has
heard of Megan Is Missing. The only reason I sought out the film is
because I'd read how so many people find it horrendously disturbing. If
you hop on to the IMDb message boards (always a good place to find
opinions by level-headed people) then you'll find a lot of posts by
self- confessed horror movie addicts saying how they found the last
twenty minutes of Megan Is Missing to be the most haunting thing
they've ever seen in a horror film which is quite a big statement! I'm
also one of those people who don't really find many films disturbing.
The Human Centipede 2 didn't particularly bother me and I managed to
watch Salo alone in the dark pretty comfortably (ish) so I'm always on
the lookout for films that might actually give me sleepless nights.
Megan Is Missing is atrocious. Let's get that out the way first, it is absolutely embarrassingly bad. As soon as it started my eyes widened in terror at the beyond horrendous acting from the two main characters in the film, Megan and Amy. Both of them can't act for a toffee apple and even that's being kind. Megan's wooden bedpost is probably the best actor in the whole film and steals the show. Although, let's face it there really isn't much of a show to steal. It presents itself as a true story, but this is impossible to take seriously thanks to the stilted acting and forced chemistry between Megan and Amy.
As soon as the film starts we're treated to dialogue from Amy which goes something like, "We're filming on my expensive new video camera, Daddy loves me." To which Megan replies, "My Daddy loves me too, slut" and we get a painfully wooden, "Bitch!" Back from Amy. Such Shakespearean dialogue continues throughout the film and it's probably supposed to sound like natural 14 year-old girl banter, but the actors deliver their lines like their reading them from the cameraman holding up a cardboard sign. It's just a total cringe-fest and the characters couldn't get any more stereotypical or two dimensional if they tried. We've got Megan the confident, popular school bike and Amy the unpopular, angelic prude.
There is an attempt to build up characters but it just ends up resulting in ridiculous clichés. At one point I even predicted in my head exactly what Megan was going to say as she breaks down awkwardly on camera about her dysfunctional upbringing. We also get treated to a needlessly long monologue from Megan about her first sexual experience which just ends up sounding like dialogue from a porn film. I also liked the director's idea of a teen house party complete with torch lights and girls randomly jumping up and down going "woo!"
It's a found footage film so it's essential for it to have a realistic atmosphere, which it fails at miserably. It does make for unintentionally hilarious viewing though. It's about a girl talking to a randomer over the Internet and ending up missing after going to meet him (surprise, surprise) but the film is extremely heavy-handed with these themes. It almost feels like a student film at times, especially when they try to create news footage. I actually laughed out loud at one point where they do a re-construction of the kidnapping. I also loved the part where the newsreader teases the next story about a cocker spaniel driving a car through a shop window! I'm not kidding, the filmmakers should've made a film based on that idea.
Basically, the first hour of Megan Is Missing is an hilarious example of how not to make a film. But then the next 20 minutes arrive and everything changes. It's difficult to talk about the last 20 minutes without giving away big plot twists, but I can say that it did actually disturb me. The acting gets a little more convincing (big stress on 'little') and the film becomes relentlessly terrifying. The unintentional funniness disappears and we're presented with a genuinely chilling atmosphere of horror and a sobering sense of realism. Some people say that it's like some sort of indulgent fetish thing for the director but I think it's actually done in a way that's not too exploitative or gratuitous. It's actually a well-made bit of harrowing horror.
So, Megan Is Missing is a film of two halves and both halves are horrendous for different reasons. The first three quarters have no redeeming qualities, whereas the last quarter has the power to genuinely shock and unsettle without over-stepping the mark or trying to be nasty for the sake of it. It's a difficult film to recommend, but if you know what you're getting in to and are a hardened horror fan then it's definitely worth one watch. Most of it is total rubbish but in the end it presented some truly frightening ideas which did haunt me and will probably continue to haunt me for some time. So that has got to be worth something, hasn't it?
Even though a little middle-aged Belgian man called Fabrice Du Welz has
only made three feature films in his career, he still happens to be one
of my favourite directors. My love affair started when I sat and
watched a film called Calvaire which left me dumbstruck and disturbed.
How it still hasn't become an iconic horror classic is still beyond me.
I love every single thing about it so you can imagine my excitement
when Fabrice announced a thematic sequel to Calvaire starring Laurent
Lucas and featuring Fabrice's favourite theme of 'mad love'.
I was blown away by the intense trailer but unfortunately the film wasn't getting much buzz. Even now, after it has been released for yonks, no one seems to be talking about it or seeing it. There's barely five reviews on IMDb and the message board is dead in the water, but it's everyone else's loss! Alleluia is an electrifying slice of raw and intense romantic horror. Well, I say romantic, it's Fabrice's idea of romantic which tends to involve obsessive psychopaths. His debut short film, A Wonderful Love featured a woman falling in love with the corpse of a stripper and Calvaire saw an inn keeper convincing himself that a male guest was his long-lost wife. Alleluia tells the tale of an insane woman becoming besotted with an insane man and going on a killing spree.
It's frightening to think that Alleluia is actually based on a real-life case in America where a couple ended up murdering 17 women in America during the 1940's. Fabrice of course puts his unique spin on things. It opens with a disturbing shot of our hero, Gloria sponging the body of a corpse in the morgue she works at. She then stops and looks directly at us sitting in our little living room arm chairs with her wide eyes penetrating our souls until 'Alleluia' flashes up on the screen. Right away you know that you're in for the Fabrice Du Welz experience.
Alleluia has that same grainy, dirty look as Fabrice's other films. It feels incredibly raw and scarily real. There's also a strong claustrophobic atmosphere throughout thanks to the intrusive camera-work which is almost always in front of the actors' faces or backs. In fact, it's pretty jarring whenever we're given a long-shot, it's almost as though the film is allowing you to breathe. All of the lighting feels very natural too with dark scenes being almost completely black and grainy so that it's impossible to tell what's going on. All of this contributes to an overall atmospheric and intense experience throughout.
What surprised me was the stupendous quality of acting from our main stars. Laurent Lucas is usually cast as the charming goody in the films he's in but has lately been venturing into darker territory. Those who saw the recent French series, Witnesses where Laurent played an everyday family man who liked to put white make-up on his face and kill young women at night won't be surprised to find out that he's similarly chilling in the role of Michel. We first see him performing some sort of voodoo on a photo of Gloria before he meets her for the first time and he only gets creepier from there. Laurent puts on a strange raspy voice and plays the part of the serial seducer extremely convincingly and never without a psychotic glint in his eyes.
It's Lola as Gloria who steals the show though. Lola too usually plays the part of the kindly woman, mostly in Pedro Almodovar's terrific dramas. Here she's in total psycho mode as the dangerously obsessed lover who will do absolutely anything and everything for Michel. In fact, Gloria makes Michel look positively normal in comparison and Lola acts the hell out of it without it ever feeling too over-the-top. In a fair world, the Academy would've recognised Alleluia and popped Lola up for an Oscar nom. I'm not even kidding, she really is that good!
Alleluia is split into four acts, all named after the women Michel seduces. Their master plan is for Gloria to pose as Michel's brother whilst Michel seduces the women and steals of their money. However, there's that old green-eyed monster in the way called Jealousy. Gloria does not like seeing Michel being affectionate with the old women he's marrying and so intense violence and chaos ensues for the majority of Alleluia's tight 90 minute runtime. To say any more about the plot would be to spoil the fun of it all. I can tell you, though that there was not one moment where I was bored. Alleluia always kept me gripped by the throat and didn't let go.
Whilst the film is less surreal than Fabrice's previous efforts, it's still absolutely insane and full of WTF moments. For me Calvaire feels like a string of iconic moments and Alleluia has a few of them too. My favourites include a bizarre Magnolia-styled musical interlude (with added corpses), a creepy Humphrey Bogart-infused trip to the cinema and a disorientating segment which sees the couple dancing around naked in flames with grinding electronic music. The film has more than its fair share of sensory overload and it all makes for an unpredictable and absorbing experience. It also has lots of brilliant uses of black humour. The best example probably comes from when Michel is trying to fleece a religious woman by telling her blatant lies whilst Gloria hysterically laughs, covering it up as hysterical cries.
The strongest segment is arguably the final act which results in a terrifyingly intense finale which leaves you begging for more. Alleluia really is a blistering thriller full of shocking violence, stupendous acting and intense directing. Chances are that you've never heard of it so it's your duty to seek this out and give it the attention it deserves. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed.
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I remember being pretty disappointed when The Conjuring first came out.
The Internet was building it up to be one of the scariest films ever
made and I was getting really excited to be properly scared. I don't
usually get scared in films, but James Wan's very own Insidious did
manage to conjure up (pardon the pun) some genuinely terrifying imagery
so I had every right to expect the same from The Conjuring but the film
didn't scare me at all. It wasn't until I re-watched it recently that I
realised that whilst it isn't a scary film to me, I can appreciate it
for being a very well-made horror film.
So when The Conjuring 2 reviews came out and were citing similar hype, I tried to put aside the claims of it being even better than the first film and went in with an open mind, almost expecting it to be a disappointment, but it wasn't. The Conjuring 2 is one of those very rare sequels (even rarer in the horror genre) which manages to better the first. It still has its problems and I still don't think it's scary or that it outdoes Insidious, but it is a fine example of haunted house horror which can stand proudly on its own.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that it's simply more of the same when the film starts as it's almost identical to the first film. A seemingly unrelated case opens the film and the title flashes up on the screen along with some jargon about the film being true and this case is yet again the scariest The Warrens' have ever encountered blah blah blah. It's basic scare tactics that might work for horror virgins but us aficionados will just be rolling our eyes. To be fair, the opening scene is actually very well directed and gives you some idea of the film's overall quality.
We're soon plunged into 1970's England and we're given constant reminders of this which is something that irritated me. Maybe it's because I'm English myself but the stereotypes were often quite overwhelming, although amusing. Every car in the driveway is a Mini Cooper, The Queen often pops up on the telly and everyone has a seriously strong cockney accent. I know that it's set in London but even so it sounds like most of the actors have moulded their accents on Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. I also found Frances O Connor a little wooden and unconvincing at times as well as a few of the kids.
Overall the acting is terrific though. I was particularly impressed with Madison Wolfe as Margaret, the main girl, who gave off Linda Blair vibes at times. The role asks a lot of such a young actress but she tackles it head on and it's pretty extraordinary to watch. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are also as excellent as ever as our favourite paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. I really liked how the film focused so much on their relationship so that it became the emotional core of the film. Similarly, Wan takes his time to carefully build the characters in England so that we become invested in them and actually care about what's going to happen to them. It's such a rarity these days to find a horror film with characters you feel involved with and this is the main aspect which makes The Conjuring 2 so strong and compelling.
The other great thing about the film is its atmosphere. James Wan clearly has a deep love for the horror genre and The Conjuring 2 is a labour of this love. The whole film is deliciously Gothic and over-the-top, it's a horror fan's dream come true. There are a lot of spooky scenes crammed into the film and whilst they didn't particularly scare me, you can't help but appreciate the stylishness and effectiveness of them. James Wan really is a master behind the camera and knows how to create genuine tension. Like the first film, a lot of scenes are filmed skilfully in one fluid take and it often becomes very intense, especially combined with the striking loud score and sound design.
Even the typical horror clichés like possession and creaky doors are done in such an effective way that you don't care that you've seen it a hundred times before. With a running time of over two hours, I was still left feeling eager for more. The Conjuring 2 creates a gorgeous world of horror and allows you to sink within it. It will leave horror fans consistently grinning from ear to ear. The demon/ghost designs in this one are also much more creative than the first film. The nun character (played by the same lady who acted as the iconic bum in Mulholland Dr) was memorably creepy and a bizarre character known as the crooked man is weirdly delightful, although some might find him a jarringly out of place.
If you're a fan of the horror genre then I can't really see any reason for disliking The Conjuring 2, and if you're not a horror fan then what are you bloody doing watching a horror film? Recent films like The Witch, It Follows and The Babadook may be better but that doesn't make The Conjuring 2 obsolete. It's a beautifully crafted piece of supernatural horror which delivers atmosphere and suspense in spades. Some of it does feel a little contrived towards the end but the finale's so excitingly pulse-pounding and intense that you're unlikely to care. It makes sure that the audience actually care about the people on screen so it's never dull for one moment. A third film will definitely be on the cards and if it carries on being as solid as this one then we might be looking at the best supernatural horror franchise since... Well, ever.
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Don't you hate it when you get yourself hyped up for a film and it lets
you down? Green Room has everything I love in a film: A fight for
survival, intensity and psychopaths. Horror fans and critics were
building it up with stories about people walking out the cinema
vomiting and calling it one of the most intense films ever , but I
wholeheartedly disagree. Don't get me wrong Green Room is a good film
but it's no where near as amazing as people are making it out to be. As
an avid fan of home invasion and survive the night kind of horror, I
think there are much better examples of this kind of film out there and
whilst Green Room is a solid thriller it really doesn't bring anything
new to the table.
My biggest gripe is how forgettable the characters are. Likable characters and character development are essential for slasher films like this. If you like the characters then chances are that you'll be invested in the film. However, I didn't really care about any of these characters and they all felt pretty lifeless. Even the potentially fascinating neo-Nazi villains were wasted, with no characters really being explored. Green Room set itself up for a Eden Lake standard character-driven ride, but failed to deliver its full potential.
Another thing that irritated me was the acting. Everyone seemed to be acting very odd with lines being mumbled to a barely audible level and no one really being that bothered about murderous Nazis being outside the door. I don't think this is the fault of the actors though, I get the feeling that this is the style of acting the director was going for but for me it didn't work. Even Patrick Stewart sleep-walked his way through the film failing to be the menacing kingpin he could've been. I don't think anyone's going to be winning any awards here.
This all makes it sound like I hated the film, but I did actually like most of it. I liked the slow build-up of the group ending up in the scary fascist bar and how situations slowly and realistically built up to a life or death situation. When the crazy violence does begin the film never becomes boring despite being set in one location, although it's still never as intense as it could've been. It is very thought-provoking though and leaves you wondering about what you'd do in their situation. I also loved the dark grungy atmosphere which really added to the hellish situation the group are in.
There are some brilliantly tense scenes, especially towards the end with a couple of nail-biting showdowns which are really well done and but I was expecting more. The way it was hyped, I thought it was going to be the same level of intensity as Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's French horror, Inside! However, some of the film is poorly directed with low lighting, frantic camera- work and fast editing so it's often difficult to make out what's going on which takes you out of the film and makes it uninvolving. At some points I found it hard to tell which characters' had died. I also don't quite understand why people are vomiting from the violence. Whilst there are some nasty moments I never found it overly gory, but then again I am very desensitized now.
I know it sounds like I hated every minute but if you take away the hype it is a good little thriller and I just want to warn over- excited people (like I was) that it isn't the ground- breaking horror film they think it's going to be. Films like You're Next and the recent 10 Cloverfield Lane are more intense and better made than this one.
This ain't no Hocus Pocus kids! Witches aren't usually the first port
of call when coming up with horror film ideas. They work well with
family film's like Nicholas Roeg's surreal adaptation of Roald Dhal's
The Witches but can cackling old women with pointy hats and broomsticks
scare grown adults? After seeing Robert Egger's striking debut, the
answer would seem to be a resounding yes. The Witch is the best horror
film since Kill List and is sure to become a future horror classic. I
like to think of myself as a hardened horror movie nut but The Witch
did actually manage to scare me, more so than the recent It Follows and
It's a fairytale for adults and Robert Egger goes down alleys as dark as a film can get. Within the first five or ten minutes, I could tell that I'd be in for a stunning ride as we're treated to some seriously nightmarish imagery involving a naked old woman smothering herself in the blood of a baby, accompanied by a screeching score which is sure to give you the shivers. Terrifying sequences like this appear sporadically through the film so it never feels overdone, it just adds to the mounting tension in each scene until it explodes into the most wonderfully indulgent finale.
A lot of films set in medieval times can be a bit trying. A Field in England and Black Death both felt like the setting let the film down by getting bogged down in confusing olde worlde Shakespearean-esque language. However, The Witch is never anything more than compelling throughout. The sole focus of the film is the family and all the parts are acted beautifully by the relatively unknown cast. The audience becomes incredibly involved and invested in the characters so you care about what's going to happen to them. There's a sense of dread in every scene but you're never quite sure about what's going to happen next which makes for unpredictable and absorbing viewing.
I can't talk about The Witch without mentioning just how gorgeous the film looks. You could pretty much take any shot and hang it up for display in a gallery because it's just beautiful to look at. The eerie shots of the deep wood reminded me of Lars Von Trier's equally unsettling, Antichrist, however The Witch has a more fantastical quality to the images which adds to the Brothers Grimm fairytale kind of vibe. There isn't a second in the film's tight 90 minute running time where a shot doesn't ooze atmosphere. It's so refreshing to get a horror film which doesn't rely on a few seconds of gore to shock the audience, but actually takes it time to conjure up genuinely frightening images. There's stuff in this film which won't leave my head for a long time after viewing it.
Equally as atmospheric as the imagery is the sound. I can't think of a more striking score or sound design since The Shining and it helps a lot to generate such an unsettling atmosphere. The exceedingly creepy dissonant violins and loud chants build scenes up to a shattering intensity where I found myself holding my breath. In fact, the whole film has such a strange and unnerving quality to it. It feels like you're watching something you shouldn't. It's no wonder that the film's even been endorsed by the Satanic Temple itself with the Temple's spokesperson calling it "a trans-formative Satanic experience."
The Witch has to be my favourite film of the year and one of my favourite horror films full stop. I found it absolutely captivating and full of tension from beginning to end. It's pretty much as perfect as horror can get and exudes the quality of a classic chiller from the 60's. Robert Eggers is definitely going to be a director to look out for in the future. He's proved to critics that the horror genre is alive and well and can still genuinely scare the hell out of people. The Witch is a sensational experience for the eyes and ears, it's cinema at its finest. It is a delicious masterpiece of horror.
Paul Thomas Anderson is renowned for making weighty films filled with
masterful directing, writing and acting. There Will Be Blood (my first
taste of PTA) almost immediately became one of my top five favourites,
resembling one of Stanley Kubrick's very best. I gave Magnolia a watch
more recently and the whole thing astounded me with its emotional depth
and richness. I'd been saving up Boogie Nights as many consider it
Paul's greatest film. At a mere 26 years old, he created a
critically-acclaimed masterpiece that blew his debut (which is still a
pretty good film) out of the water. I couldn't wait to give Boogie
Nights a watch and it didn't disappoint.
I know it's not a popular opinion, but I still think There Will Be Blood and Magnolia are far better than Boogie Nights. However, that just shows how talented our Paul is as a filmmaker because Boogie Nights is a seriously terrific achievement right from the opening sombre music. We're then hit immediately by a blasting 70's pop track and a sweeping camera which takes us into the mind of Madonna when she was working on Confessions on a Dancefloor. A beautiful retro disco with all the main characters being introduced with perfect camera timing I don't know how Paul managed to do it but it's a fantastic piece of camera-work and it almost feels as though he's showing off a bit.
The film is a rags to riches tale, with more than a touch of irony to it, of a young and naïve dishwasher who's whisked away by Burt Reynolds to become the biggest porn star there's ever been! The first half is the more entertaining and funny half. It's full of infectious energy and memorable characters who jump off the screen. For a film about the porn industry, there's surprisingly little smut aside from an extended sequence where Mark Whalberg films his first sex scene with Julianne Moore. It's extremely lively and full of fab scenes such as another impressive Steadicam move around a pool party and a fun montage showing Dirk Diggler's rise to pornographic stardom.
The darker, second half is the more interesting one for me. We're suddenly plunged into the 80's and watch as everyone's lives go spiralling towards hell. The once friendly Dirk has turned into an egotistical cocaine-addict and Burt Reynolds has become a desperate director pimping his surrogate daughter out to strangers on the street. It's a sad chapter which adds weight and morality to the tale. The film could've been a terrific comedy in the vein of the Wolf of Wall Street, but the second half offers a lovely bleak balance and shows us that pornography is not an industry to aspire to get into. The seemingly fulfilled characters become much deeper and more tragic figures.
There are some lovely scenes. One sequence which I really loved was a montage where all the characters are at their lowest. The music suited the scene so well and it felt very unsettling and intense. I also liked the moment where we're given a glimpse into Julianne Moore's life as she discusses getting custody of her child with her ex-husband. The film stops being fun and starts to become a much more serious beast set in a real world more closer to our own. Boogie Nights handles its many characters so expertly, kind of in the same way Magnolia did, although to a slightly lesser extent.
Just when you think the film can't throw up any more brilliance, the best scene pops up towards the end. It involves Dirk's pathetic gang trying to orchestrate a drug deal at Alfred Molina's house. Everything about this scene is pretty much perfect from the acting to the music to the tense, unpredictable atmosphere. Even the firecrackers are a masterstroke! It erupts into a Quentin Tarantino styled shootout and the unpredictability of it all makes for a thrilling watch. In fact, the entire film is filled with so many terrific scenes that it makes for a very high rewatchability factor.
My only complaint would be that, like Dirk's manhood, it's quite overlong. I think I would've preferred more of a focus on the 80's segment rather than the 70's. However, Boogie Nights is still a really great film. The thing that stands out the most is the masterful directing by the young Paul Thomas Anderson. Some argue that it's a Martin Scorsese rip-off but I'd argue that his style is even better than Martin Scorsese. It's a fantastic ride which leaves you with a lot to ponder about. So get your glad rags on and hit the dancefloor kids!
I make no secret about David Lynch being my favourite ever director. He
makes films like no other by building dark worlds which draw you in by
putting you in some sort of spell. I love him so much that I put off
seeing Lost Highway for over a year because it was the only David Lynch
film I was yet to see. I was even considering not seeing it at all just
so I could always have that one new David Lynch film, but then I
thought that would just be ridiculous. Also, the revival of Twin Peaks
was enough to pique my David Lynch anticipation meter to breaking point
so I finally gave in and stuck in Lost Highway.
Firstly, I don't think it's as grossly strange as some people make out. Yes, it has all the trademark bizarreness you come to expect from David but the majority of the film is surprisingly linear. I was expecting some next level INLAND EMPIRE stuff the way some folk bang on about it! The first 40 minutes are like Michael Haneke's Hidden in dream form. It's probably some of the best stuff our David has ever done due to the inexplicably tense and hellish atmosphere. A lot of the scariness is down to the terrifying music which ranges to ominous drones to extremely loud strings. There's one seriously nightmarish image near the start (which I've never heard anyone talk about, surprisingly) which sent chills up my spine. It's a full-on Lynchian assault on the senses which takes you down some dark and enthralling corners. The atmosphere is chock-a-block full of mystery.
There are endlessly beautiful scenes including Fred playing the saxophone, the unsettling meeting with the Mystery Man and extremely frightening dream sequences. I think it's also important to note the expert positions David places the camera. There always seems to be too much space surrounding the characters and it makes for seriously eerie viewing. There's also that fantastic Francis Bacon inspired colour scheme of dark purples/pinks and shadows. He really does direct the hell out of the first forty minutes of this film.
Suddenly the film changes into something entirely different as soon as Fred Madison randomly transforms into a young mechanic called Pete Dayton and takes on an entirely new life. No one seems to bat an eyelid about Fred Madison disappearing and the sudden change is quite jarring. In my opinion, this is when the film goes down a gear. I think because the first story is so strong, this second one pales slightly in comparison as the suffocating atmosphere somewhat dissipates and the overall strangeness ceases. Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot to love it just feels less Lynchy and more straightforward, and the Pete Dayton story is the biggest chunk of the film.
There are still some spectacular sequences though, including a mysterious gangster getting road rage and Patricia Arquette's intriguing Alice character. There's also a strong feeling of everything not quite being what it seems and it gives you time to ponder over exactly what the heck you're watching. Thankfully for us weirdos things do start to get extremely strange towards the final half hour of the film before breaking down into total chaos until your mind finally explodes.
Lost Highway is extremely puzzling in a similar way to Mulholland Dive. All of the clues seem to be there as well as a few abstractions to throw lots of spanners into the works (what does this Mystery Man have to do with it all!?) but there is a complex and very intelligent story buried underneath all the bizarreness. It feels like a warm-up exercise before Dave finally broke the mould of film with Mulholland Drive. Everything in Mulholland feels like a perfected version of Lost Highway from the more passionate love story to the unrelenting dreamlike atmosphere.
Lost Highway is still a film to cherish on the Lynchian canon though. It's very much its own thing and I felt a strong urge to see it all again once it had all finished. Unlike Mulholland Drive there doesn't seem to be a universal theory to Lost Highway which makes it all the more interesting to watch again and again to dig for clues. However, as with all Lynchy films the best thing to do is just sit back and let your intuition drive you rather than your brain. It's not an IQ test but a piece of art which is designed to take you on a journey. No one makes films that make you feel quite like David Lynch does. Let's hope that the Twin Peaks revival encourages our Dave to get back into more regular filmmaking again. I couldn't bear to wait another ten years!
I've seen a lot of depressing films and consider myself somewhat of a
connoisseur of the sub-genre. I love tragic films like Dancer in the
Dark, Amour, Martyrs etc. all of which have reduced me to teary eyes
which is something I never normally do. Dear Zachary is without a doubt
the most heart-wrenchingly devastating film I have ever seen. Nothing
I've seen has come close to the sheer power of this film.
I went in almost totally blind and would urge everyone else to do the same. Dear Zachary left me utterly stunned and I'm sure if I didn't watch it with my family then I would've broken down into sobs. Tears clouded my vision, my heart thumped like a train, chills covered my spine and my lip quivered. This might sound like a regular occurrence for the more sensitive amongst you who weep at Marley and Me and Beaches, but no film has ever affected me so physically like Dear Zachary has.
It's impossible to rate and review this film because to do so would take away its importance. Dear Zachary is beyond a rating, it's absolutely crucial viewing for everyone to see how the law can absolutely wreck people's lives. The film is made by one Zachary's father's closest friends so it's made with a raging passion which grabs you right from the start. There are images and sounds within which will haunt you forever.
No fictional film could ever come up with a story as shocking as this.
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