Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Morbidness of Religion
A story of extreme religious conviction, Stations of the Cross left me in a profound state of sorrow for a character who never realised the insanity of their actions.
Maria is raised in a devout Catholic family, with a domineering mother instilling guilt over any slight indication of sin (of which there are no bounds) and her local priest continuing to give Maria a sense of moral failure, that she must thrive for God's love no matter how horrific the consequences.
The narrative's dogmatic nature is intensified by Anna Bruggemann's script, whose use of characterisation creates thoroughly vivid individuals whose actions serve to enforce (depending on your ideals) our own sense of morality. The static cinematography is another effective tool in reflecting the characters' dogma. It lets audiences become further embedded into Maria's tormented existence, feeling dismayed with each dire choice she makes.
As the final scene played out I couldn't help but think Maria's life was wasted, missing out on a life's worth of wonder in exchange for a belief that enforced repression. Station of the Cross is an powerful study of religion's morbid nature.
Flying Blind (2012)
Frankie is a dedicated and stringent aeronautics specialists who quickly becomes infatuated with Kahil, one of her student whose mysterious background soon causes complications. Despite these complications, which are connected to today's cultural and political concerns, Flying Blind's attempt to ultimately portray their relationship as a romantic endeavour does not work.
This is mainly due to Frankie directing the relationship towards pure sexual desire. She becomes out of sync with her usual strict pattern, putting other matters aside in order to experience another lustful tryst. Although Frankie's behaviour is understandable when taking into account earlier scenes which establish her solitude life, it still does not make their relationship convincing as a romance.
Rather, the relationship is more convincing as a mismatch which builds upon the other's suspicions. Frankie's unease whenever Kahil speaks Arabic or socialising with his friends, whereas Kahil becomes frustrated with Frankie's work for weapons defence organisations. Their conflicts force audiences to think about current cultural and political implications. How comfortable are we with multiculturalism? How destructive is a defence policy which uses drones?
These questions lead to Kahil's revealed sympathies for Islamism fundamentalists, both by admitting Algerian terrorist groups tell the "truth" about the government and associates himself with other suspicious individuals. Flying Blind frames these revelations through Frankie's mindset. Through her determination for Kahil, she attempts to find out more about Kahil's past to see if there is a genuine reason for Kahil's fundamentalists sympathies. Though these facts are left vague enough to let audiences determine if Frankie is extremely naive or if Kahil is genially innocent. Either way, Flying Blind's portrayal of this intense relationship provokes dilemmas that are becoming extremely relevant within today's cultural and political spheres.
Four Corners (2013)
Four Corners (2013)
Four Corners offers nothing new for the gangster genre. An impressionable youth verging towards a life of crime, a reforming criminal attempting to right his wrongs and a serial murder investigation intertwine in this cliché ridden narrative.
Those who enjoy gangster films might not think twice about Four Corners being generic to its genre. Yet they might not forgive Four Corners for its disjointed approach to narrative, as it verges between stories which usually felt disconnected from the overall narrative and leads to viewer dissatisfaction.
Adding to this, Four Corners' characterisation is weak. The characters were stereotyped or had little substance. This applies especially to Ricardo. How can we as the audience expect to ponder Ricardo's plight if we are offered little insight into why he switches between a chess player and wannabe gang banger. These flaws make Four Corners monotonous viewing.
Author! Author! (1982)
Author! Author! (1982)
Author! Author! was an evoking story of a Playwright manoeuvring work along with his personal live. It had the ability to convey a dramatic storyline whilst containing comedic moments to lighten the mood.
Ivan Travalian (Al Pacino) is suffering from his Wife Gloria abandoning him and the children for another man. I was surprised at first by the film's dramatic tone thinking it would be more comical, however this is by no means a complaint. Pacino could certainly hold his own as a dramatic actor as he already proved in previous films. Pacino's incorporated a furiousness into his character which was counted by the passive-aggressiveness Tuesday Weld placed into Gloria's character. These performances were critical in accumulating drama within Author! Author! as it was easy to emphasise with Ivan's emotions whilst becoming infuriated with Gloria. Yet their dramatic confrontations were also comical shown in Ivan arguing with Gloria's new lover Larry. Pacino and Weld again placed their respective characteristic attributes into the scene creating an evoking scene. Yet Ivan's behaviour towards Larry broke dramatic tension as he was exceptionally funny, his threats towards him were ridiculously hilarious.
Author! Author! was criticised upon release as it was claimed Ivan's relationship with his children felt contrived. This was a harsh criticism as this aspect contained many comical and heart-felt moments. Spending an evening meal with his children after Gloria deserted the family, Ivan acknowledged the situation with dry humour, "we're all depressed in this family, so we'll stay depressed". Ivan was breaking down the tension as he did when he attempted to escape with his children before gaining unwanted police attention. "I see myself on page six of the New York Post", once again using dry humour in difficult situations. Yet there were emotive scene where Ivan had to deal with the children's problems, there certainly were not contrived as one could feel an emotional bond between the characters. This emotional bond enhanced support for Ivan to keep his family together.
Author! Author! was able to combine dramatic and comical aspects of life. Ivan's determination to sort out the difficulties in his life and keep his family together made him an admirable character, thus making Author! Author! an admirable film.
My Man Godfrey (1936)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
My Man Godfrey is a robust film with its witty dialogue and excellently-produced characters who play off each other in an engaging social commentary ever present in 1930s comedy.
Godfrey is living as a 'forgotten man' in the City Dump when he enters Cornelia and Irene, young rich sisters participating in a scavenger hunt attempting to gain a 'forgotten man'. Disgusted by Cornelia's snobbishness yet intrigued by Irene's youthful zest who is an exception amongst her class, she and Godfrey start a relationship filled with comedy and realism when he accepts a position as her families' butler. Their relationship mostly consisted of comedical exchanges as Irene desperately tried to make Godfrey fall for her with whimsical results. They became a comic duo with Godfrey being the witty introvert with his smart comments whilst Irene was very extroverted with her eccentric behaviour and delightful charm. It results in hilarious moments between them emphasising My Man Godfrey's perfection in its comic characterisation. Yet their relationship does come at a price. Irene hiring Godfrey as the family butler puts him at odds with Cornelia, who treats Godfrey with contempt. Their conflict is filled with venomous exchanges underlining My Man Godfrey's social commentary. Cornelia as a rich snob is self-adsorbed in her wealthy world thinking she's too good for Godfrey, a 'forgotten man' whose has fought for a living.
The conflict between Cornelia and Godfrey was the pinnacle towards My Man Godfrey's rich/poor theme. Godfrey having previously lived in rough conditions had an understanding of social problems regarding distribution of wealth. It was a prominent problem in 1930s America which My Man Godfrey treated with poignancy. As a result Cornelia & Irene's family where targets for humor. Mrs Bollock getting drunk and seeing pixies and Cornelia wrecking property was meant to be laughed at whilst mocking their idiocy as affects of their excessive living. Even Mr Bollock realised the ridiculousness of his family emphasising Godfrey's "empty-headed nitwits" comment. The perfectly balanced mixture of comedy and social commentary justifies the claim of My Man Godfrey as a robust film.
My Brother the Devil (2012)
My Brother The Devil
My Brother The Devil can be described as an formulaic gritty, realistic crime drama seen in a multitude of films like Boyz In Da Hood, Kidulthood and La Haine to name a few. Yet it does offer a shocking twist and tense atmosphere underlining the characters' realities which were dramatically absorbing.
Until My Brother The Devil revealed its twist, it was a formulaic narrative. However there was no faulting its atmospheric direction. My Brother The Devil used still images of gang-life in its opening scene whilst firmly establishing differences between Rashid and Mo, Brothers and main protagonists. Visuals were primarily used as they are an emotive concept, actions speak louder than words. My Brother The Devil did well to establish atmosphere by placing characters (and consequently audiences) in violent situations. The actors' direction in specific scenes was fundamental towards this, not relying on dialogue only. The scenes are left to settle through each actors' instincts forcing audiences to absorb tension. Yet it is the shocking twist within My Brother The Devil whilst it felt questionable at first did fit into Rashid's and Mo's characterisation regarding gang-life's requirement of fierce masculinity. In this regard it was a bold move which intensified My Brother The Devil's atmosphere.
Despite the intriguing twist, My Brother The Devil's narrative style did feel cliché. As previously stated the narrative was formulaic to an extent where I was predicted what would follow. Yet the acting in specific scenes are able to absorb audiences into their world. Wherever it was Rashid or Mo having to square up to fierce opposition or experiencing violent situations, the actors involved never overly convey their situation. Thanks to this the actors created a realism shocking audiences into realising the harrowing environment these characters were part of. This directness of My Brother The Devil's realism makes it slightly superior over its clichéd flaws to make it an dramatically absorbing feature.
Un prophète (2009)
A Prophet (2009)
A Prophet contrasts between gritty prison drama and romanticism of crime's luxuries. A Prophet in despite of this contradiction in terms was an engaging film whose atmospheric and hard-hitting qualities on prison life were transfixing.
A Prophet's atmospheric qualities lied with Malik's experiences, a fresh prisoner transferred from youth offender to adult prison. A Prophet was decisive in establishing prison's harsh environment with Malik experiencing numerous harrowing moments which are bleakly toned, essential for A Prophet's narrative style. Such scenes' tone were perfected as they were left to settle for audiences to contemplate Malik's scenario. The hand-held cinematography's irregularity personified Malik's humiliation and anxiety within prison. Yet A Prophet also focused on other aspects of Malik's life. Malik lacked formal education which makes his prison life more difficult, adding to the tragedy of his situation. A Prophet again perfected bleak atmospheric tones to let audiences contemplate Malik's lack of formal education as a tragedy. It showed great direction from Jacques Audiard as capturing a bleak atmosphere effectively.
A Prophet's representation on crime was mostly direct and brutal. Malik's time throughout prison involved him in various horrendous and dangerous tasks which were horrific not only for audiences but to Malik himself. Later Malik is shown to be increasingly haunted by his actions giving consequence to criminal activity. However A Prophet somewhat contradicted its' representation on crime as Malik became established into criminality, there were certain scenes of sensationalism. This dented A Prophet's representation of crime through taking away the gritty realism previously conveyed.
A Prophet in regards to sensationalism was familiar by delving into such territory. Yet A Prophet's atmosphere and skillful direction concluded it to be a hugely satisfying drama capitulating the difficulties of prison life.
Who Killed Johnny (2013)
Who Killed Johnny (2013)
Who Killed Johnny from my perspective was an inconsistent film veering from the bizarre, supposedly hilarious to extremely dramatic. It would have worked better if there had been consistency between these various aspects yet it simply leaves you questioning what you saw.
Who Killed Johnny as a comedy relied heavily on visual gags which felt either flat or clichéd. These took place through Melanie and Max processing scenarios for their proposed script with characters of different features and persuasions imagined for comic intent but with no satisfying results. The visual gags which felt like clichés were the appearances of Jambo and Gudrun, an interracial couple. Jambo with his afro and very tight Y-fronts along with Gudrun's large breasts and luscious behind were emphasised for their visual humour. I assume it was meant to be hilarious yet it felt bland.
Characterisation within Who Killed Johnny never felt truly elaborated. Although Melanie and Max did have chemistry with each other along with their relationship towards Jambo and Gudrun, Who Killed Johnny transitioning between real life and scenarios within their script warped characterisation because it was never given strong focus. Even after Who Killed Johnny's central narrative point occurred there was more reliance on comic moments rather than strong characterisation. Though some may feel comic moments are adequate within Who Killed Johnny, its lack of characterisation as a result did not make me invest into Who Killed Johnny's narrative.
As Who Killed Johnny's narrative continued to become more inconsistent, it was another clause for my viewing displeasure. Who Killed Johnny became more outlandish and switched directions especially in its climax where I was left questioning my viewing experience. The continuous inconsistency was Who Killed Johnny's most critical flaw which hindered it as a whole.
My Week with Marilyn (2011)
The Monroe Dilemma
My Week with Marilyn is based upon Colin Clark's memoirs on his relationship with Monroe during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Since Monroe was a tragic figure whose public persona contributed to her ultimate downfall I expected My Week with Marilyn to expose this tragedy, however it mostly contributed to Monroe's glamour image.
My Week with Marilyn began establishing Colin as the misfit of his family. Whereas his Father is an Art Historian and his Brother a Military Historian, Colin's desire for film making disgusted his family. As much emphasis is placed on Colin breaking from family tradition I assumed it would coincide with later plot points yet this was to no avail, one of many flaws within My Week with Marilyn. It swiftly moves onto Colin asserting himself into the film industry which is made both admirable and entertaining through a montage of scenes. It might be enjoyable to watch yet it was another flaw as it only filled time before reaching Colin's relationship with Monroe. Once Monroe is first glimpsed My Week with Marilyn falls into a clichéd trap of reflecting her physical beauty more than her physiological vulnerability. Parading around in public places and being playful towards Colin reaffirmed well-established viewpoints of Monroe, there was nothing intriguing about her representation. Once Colin's relationship with Monroe develops, there are interludes into her psyche whilst appealing do not delve deep enough. In one scene Colin has to comfort Monroe reeling from a sexist comment and later she confides with him that "all people ever see is Marilyn Monroe". These are meant to be a profound insight into Monroe's psyche yet My Week with Marilyn proves itself to be a contradiction. If this was a profound statement then Colin would not have been infatuated with Monroe simply because she was a sex symbol and My Week with Marilyn would have not glamorised her.
The only sincere response from Colin and Monroe's relationship in particular her representation as a sex symbol was Colin's interactions with Lucy, a co-worker. She was the object of Colin's affections before dropping her for Monroe which understandably made Lucy upset. Running back to Lucy after his Monroe relationship reaches its decline, Lucy swiftly rejects him before asking if Monroe broke his heart. When he responds Lucy boldly answers "good, it needed breaking". Lucy's response was a powerful moment which challenged previous contradictions regarding Monroe's representation as Colin's obsessive gaze came at a serious price. This earnest moment is what I hoped My Week with Marilyn would contain, however it hindered itself on overly glamorising Monroe instead of truly revealing her vulnerability.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
In a musical, nothing dreadful ever happens
"In a musical, nothing dreadful ever happens". These are words spoken in Dancer in the Dark which have ironic significance as this is a musical filled with dreadfulness in its unfolding tragedy and subverts musical traditions for sinister meanings.
Set in 1960s America, Selma is an Czech immigrant who came to America to benefit her son Gene. Working tirelessly in the local factory and hiding knowledge of an hereditary degenerative disease of blindness, Selma saves her money hoping to get Gene an operation to prevent him suffering the same fate. However Bill, Selma's landlord in desperate need for money to repay his bank taking advantage of Selma's vulnerability by stealing her money leading to an inevitable decline. This synopsis makes Dancer in the Dark sound like a standard drama. However this is a Lars Von Trier film, anyone aware of his filmmaking will know his unconventional style. Instead of standard drama Dancer in the Dark contains an awkwardness which at first is hard to distinguish if it's deliberate. Selma is represented as a childish character whose mannerisms (waving at a train as it goes by) and her obsession with Hollywood musicals made it hard to believe she is a responsible Mother. This also applies to performances, there is a constant sense of otherness as if you're witnessing an amateur production. Not to say the performances were inadequate but the direction involved along with hand-held cinematography's intense movements and frequent cuts orchestrated the narrative into a series of awkward scenes contributing to an unsettling environment. At least at first.
Once Dancer in the Dark's turning point is reached its awkwardness reaches potential and the unsettling environment begins to make sense. Selma's childishness intensifies into her musical daydreams. Dancer in the Dark used musicals numbers not to show expressions of joyous optimism but Selma's denial of grim reality. The musical numbers thus contain an unconventionality, they were not vibrant and glamorous but unskilful and bizarre. Each musical numbers' composition lacked structure, for example on a slow moving train Selma dances with workers on an open carriage followed by a couple dancing outside a near-by house. This unstructured style reveals Selma's wild imagination briefly rejecting her dreadful reality. It was Selma's childish fantasy to be a musical star yet Dancer in the Dark conveys this as simply an unrealistic obsession. It gives Dancer in the Dark's musical numbers a subversive context which is creatively intelligent as the musical numbers' abnormality showed Selma's delusional mental state. Dancer in the Dark though at first will take time to become accustomed to, it transforms into an exceptionally creative film which is brilliant in its unconventionality.