…and the quest to see everything

Archive for April, 2013

Hot Docs: Sex Saves World


I’ve written about this year’s Hot Docs selections. Two of them are about the future in their own way – I Am Breathing and Future My Love, both of which I’ve written about in Entertainment Maven. The Other two are about how their subjects are trying to save the world. The first in the latter group is James Franco and Travis Mathews’ Interior: Leather Bar, which I wrote about for The Film Experience (link below).

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The second is Michal Marczak’s Fuck For Forest. I totally forgot that doc’s third Canadian connection. In the movie we see the titular group’s clashes against some of the people during the Berlin SlutWalk, a global movement that started when two Toronto police officers held a seminar in York University telling the co-eds not to dress slutty to avoid rape. Some of SlutWalk’s 2.5th feminist movement marchers sees FFF’s aggressively pro-sexual recruitment tendencies as anti-women, which is a totally understandable angle in seeing the former group. Click here to read my post on Entertainment Maven and judge for yourself if the doc – or my writing :S – gives these misunderstood idealists any justice.

 


Derek Cianfrance and Sam Mendes


Is it just me or do I see a similarity between Derek Cianfrance and Sam Mendes’ CVs? Both directors like sledgehammering the family as an institution, and I’m not saying that as an insult.

For sake of argument, let’s say that Cianfrance’s first movie, Brother Tied, isn’t his début. Has any of you even seen that? With this in mind, Blue Valentine is Cianfrance’s prettier version of American Beauty (the former, of course, has less braying), both movies being about families with slacker husbands (Ryan Gosling and Kevin Spacey), an ambitious but trapped wife (Michelle Williams and Annette Bening), and a daughter (Faith Wladyka and Thora Birch).

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The Place Beyond the Pines, then, is Cianfrance’s Road to Perdition, both being literary (like) epics about criminal fathers (Ryan Gosling and Tom Hanks) and their ambivalent sons (Tyler Hoechlin and Dane DeHaan).

I shouldn’t share my crackpots fantasies but this is the Internet and I can do whatever I want. These similarities make me wonder what’s next for Cianfrance. I kind of want to see him tackle a war movie, an action movie, an Ian McEwan adaptation. Or theatre. We always like it when movie directors have their hand in theatre, right?

Anyway, read what else I’ve written on The Place Beyond the Pines here and there’s another link below.


Spring Breakers


While talking Josh Brunsting on Twitter, who compared Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers to Jean-Luc Godard and Terrence Malick’s work, I had to chime in that it also reminded me of the work of two opposing Germans – Leni Riefenstahl (as I said in my REVIEW) and Rainier Werner Fassbinder. The reason I brought up Fassbinder is because of his début in Love is Colder than Death where, SPOILER, a couple drives off after killing a man or more. To a lesser extent, his work like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Berlin Alexanderplatz are about people who aren’t perfectly redeemable but struggle with the consequences of their amoral actions.

I figured that the character arcs in Love is Colder than Death would have shocked a world that’s still trying to recover from the Hays code’s repealing, and that thankfully us Millenials have gotten over this sort of moral conservatism. The polarizing reaction towards this movie might bring up two questions about its contemporary audience’s viewpoints – do we still have the ethical hangups like we did forty or so years ago, or is it because Korine can’t/won’t sell this characters with any absolution?


With Your Best Shot: Shorts


How many times do I have to say “I’m back” for it to be real? This week in Nathaniel’s Best Shot series, we are doing shorts courtesy of a site called Short of the Week, a site that might just be my new fix.  Let us have some good, weird, black and white fun, shall we? First is Mikey Please’s The Eagleman Stag. Let me just begin by saying that it’s either my anxiety or my incoming sleep deprivation but I have no idea what this short is about.

One. Here, the protagonist says “This half pint makes my hands look…huge.” This reminds me of every time I try to take a long shot picture of something, hoping that the camera focuses on the one thing within a huge canvas. And then the lens shut and I see the image I took and everything flattens, my focus being one of many objects instead of THE object. An amalgamation of elements – the dimensional nature of stop motion animation and the protagonists monologue – bridges that connection between our selective eyes and a supposed flat surface.

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Two. The protagonist inserts a serum in his brain, leading to a chaos of unpredictable personal consequences. What ensues is a Borzage-eque montage starting with this.

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Next is from Ray Tintori, who was the effects guy at Beasts of the Southern Wild and directed music videos for MGMT and the Cool Kids. But let’s talk about Death to the Tin Man. One. The Psycho shot, depicting the silhouette of a man named Bill whose soul now inhabits a Tin Man version of him.

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My two best shots for these shorts are companion shots, the first is one of Tin Man’s ways of wooing back his beloved, the hammered in expression surprisingly conveying emotion. I am pairing it with a shot of the beloved trying to paint eyes on zombie-Bill, preferring the soulless body to the heart-equipped human. These characters live in a quirkily-framed bleak world, comparable to Chaplin’s movies about how modernity isolates.

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They are driven to obsessive desperation, with no reliable moral centres to guide them to the right path or people. They’re slowly realizing that the characters around them value romanticized appearances over the truth. These shots explore our discomfort with uncanny human ugliness, these characters inadvertently vandalising the human form, trying to recover the original, trying to play God towards the ones we love.

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