Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Two Days, Two French Films: The Past and Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Monday and Tuesday. The Past and Blue Is The Warmest Colour. Vastly contrasting, yet uncannily similar in the technical sense. A fine trait of French cinema, close range shots are in their abundance - a technique used to have the audience feel a greater presence in the film itself. Little flourishes of music so common in American film are rare. They never tell you how to feel, but rather provide genuine incentive for you to feel such things. It's stark and its cinematic realism but its terribly likeable - its not weak sentiment but just a combination of raw, rich acting, sensitive directing and subtle film editing.  

At its material core, the two films could not be any more different. Le Passé is an in-depth inspection of less than a week in the life of a family of complex dimensions. You have the central character Marie Barrison (Bérénice Belo) who is soon to be divorced from her Iranian spouse Ahmid (Tahar Rahim) and remarried to the young sullen Frenchman Sahmir (Salim Kechiouche)  whose wife is in a coma. Marie's daughter Lucia (Pauline Berlot) harbours an ill-concealed disapproval of her mother's new relationship and it is only time before everyone understands the full basis of this persisting aversion. Blue, by some contrast blossoms as an innocent love story between literature-passionate high school student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopolous) and our older blue-haired woman, mysterious fourth-year fine arts student Emma (Lea Seydoux).

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Winter's Tale

In 2001, Akiva Goldsman produced an adapted screenplay for the much-revered spectacle that was A Beautiful Mind. Enthralling, riveting and procuring a league of impressive performances from its cast - the film went on to win Goldsman his first Academy Award for his work on the adaptation. Imagine my disappointment then when Goldsman's directorial debut failed in every aspect that A Beautiful Mind thrived in. Both films were rich of ideas and sentiments but where A Beautiful Mind neared perfection in its masterful plot cues, Winter's Tale is kept barely alive with an air of artificiality and sordid disappointment. However, Winter's Tale is "impossibly beautiful" to look at. The cinematography is a fine tribute to how far, technologically, the world of film has come.   

Set completely in a time space of New York winters, A Winter's Tale depicts the attraction between an orphan thief who lives above Grand Central Station, Peter Lake (Colin Farrel) and a young heiress with an affliction. Their chance meeting occurs when Peter attempts to break into Beverly Penn's (Jessica Brown Findlay) home. The film encompasses ongoing themes of miracles, of light and darkness and of angels and demons.     

Monday, 10 February 2014

12 Years A Slave

Perhaps the greatest victim in the film 12 Years A Slave is young Patsey - one of the only female slaves featured in this extraordinary film. She is portrayed by newcomer Lupita Nyongo'o, who upon receiving a win in the Best Supporting Actress category at the SAG awards articulated something remarkably accurate. She thanked the director. She said: 
"Thank you Steve McQueen. Thank you for taking a flashlight and shining it under the floorboards of this nation and reminding us what it is we stand on." 
Director Steve McQueen upheld an incredible morale in the creation of this masterpiece. He is a proven expert in handling delicate subject matters with precision and care. As an audience member of any of his films you see what he sees and what he believes. That is: if it is a cruelty be done then it is a cruelty to be seen. 

Solomon Northup's biography brought to life shows us how he, in pre Civil War America, is a free African-American man who makes a living as a distinguished performer. In an act of trickery and betrayal he is abducted and sold into slavery. Torn away from his beloved family, he is conditioned to live under cruel subjugation and inhumane circumstance. Twelve years a slave, Solomon awaits a time when "freedom is opportune" to redeem his humanity and reclaim his liberty. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese sure knows how to throw a party. Dazzling to the eye, explicit in every nature and exploiting every moral to be had The Wolf Of Wall Street is without a doubt the epitome of screen entertainment. The monster movie (a 3-hour debacle of addictive crazy) never stops to take a breathe. It's all helicopters, tantrums, pool parties, big boats, strippers, hallucinations, animals, expletives shouted and hired dwarves. Addressing the tired storyline of the fall of a Wall Street king that we have too often seen in films such as The Company Men, Inside Job and Wall Street - Scorsese brings new light to an all too familiar genre.  

Jordan Belfort's steady climb in the financial world is amusing as it is illegal. He develops from a wide-eyed ambitious young man fresh on Wall Street to a drugged-up smooth talking legend. On his way up, he upgrades.... everything - from his car to his job to his friends and finally to his wife. And while moving up in the corporate ladder, he sheds moral after moral at no expense. Belfort and his team of compatriots spend more time planning how to spend their money than actually making it. And this is the primary source of entertainment.
If ever there was a perfectly OTT film - than this is it.