Monday, 3 June 2013

Not photos.. films!

Today, no photos.

I love taking photographs. I suppose I like images in general. There was even a time when I thought I'd like to make films. So it's fair to say that I love films.

Just because I felt like making use of youtube, here are a few of my favourite films, in no particular order.

Note: if you haven't seen the films, it's probably best not to watch the clips, as they do give away huge parts of the plots in many cases!



Solaris

Solaris is a remake of Tarkovsky's original. The original was good, but was overlong, as was Tarkovsky's wont. (Stalker is my favourite Tarkovsky film, though even that could do with a trim, seeing as how it comes on two DVDs..)


Solaris is about a space station orbiting a planet that seems to provide the deepest desires of those nearby. George Clooney plays a psychologist sent out to try and restore some order to the station.


Even in this stripped down version it's still a quiet and meditative affair, but hypnotic, and quite moving.


Grosse Pointe Blank

"You can never go home again! But I guess you can shop there.."

A romantic comedy about a hitman attending his high school reunion? Somebody call John Cusack. Oh wait, they did. And the results were great. It really is very blackly, morbidly funny, and yet at the same time, touchingly romantic, as Martin Blank comes home to find the woman he stood up ten years earlier.

I could probably quote this film word for word.


Gattaca

I recently watched a film called "In Time". After an interesting start I very quickly lost interest, what with the derivative plot, dreadful acting, constant shoot outs and car chases and.. well, nothing. The only thing that interested me about the film (or rather, shocked me) was that it was by the same director as my favourite film of all time: Gattaca.

I knew nothing about Gattaca before I saw it. It hooked me, and afterwards left me thinking about its humanistic message for some time. The cast (including Ethan Hawke, one of my favourite actors) is excellent, and the film making (editing, art direction, music) is perfection.


Lord of War

Lord of War is not only a brilliantly black comedy, but it's also an excellent quasi documentary about the murky world of the international trade in small arms. Nicolas Cage's character is an illegal gun runner (an amalgam of various real life runners, such as Viktor Bout), but the real world trade in small arms is mostly conducted by the members of the UN security council, and is worth billions, and kills millions.

Lord of War is an entertaining film with an important message.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One of my favourite films. Unfortunately, the clip below is definitely not the one I wanted: my favourite scene is the anarchic fishing trip, where the patients hove back into port (into the waiting arms of many law enforcement officials) grinning and holding their catches aloft.

It's a wonderful film. At times funny, at times shocking and sad.

Interestingly, this is one of the few films where I preferred the film to the book. The book focussed too much on the Chief's internal mental state, whereas the film (wisely) chose to focus on McManus' effect on the other patients.


Michael Clayton

Another George Clooney film? Um, well, yes. I happen to think that while he's not a stunning actor (he can play George Clooney, George Clooney, and sometimes even George Clooney) he picks some excellent films to work on.

Michael Clayton is a good film about the immorality of major corporations (and the amoral law firms who protect their interests).

Below is Tom Wilkinson's opening speech.


Up in the Air

What's this? Another George Clooney film? And another George Clooney film where he plays himself?

Well, yes. It is.

Clooney plays a corporate downsizer. He's shallow, charming, empty, soulless.

You know that thing about redemptive character arcs? I'm glad to say this film makes a mockery out of that one: this is a very cynical and dark film.



The Game

Michael Douglas plays a man who has it all. He then finds himself on the receiving end of increasingly disturbing and violent incidents: is it part of a "game" he signed up for, or is it a scam to get his money?

The twist(s) at the end are ridiculous, but pack quite an emotional punch.



Leon

I love Luc Besson's films. This and Fifth Element are wonderful, showing what a versatile director he is. Leon is particularly interesting, giving New York a very French feeling.

In this clip, police officers have massacred Mathilda's family, and she turns to her enigmatic neighbour, "Leon", for sanctuary.



Blade Runner

"Like tears in the rain." Blade Runner's story about humanoid replicants desiring to be human is a landmark piece of cinema. Watched today in an era of constant over the top CGI, the dark, rainy, neon landscape looks frighteningly convincing. Coupled with some great performances from Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer it makes a truly cinematic experience on a big screen.

Considering he made two sci-fi masterpieces (this, and Alien), Ridley Scott really lost the plot later on. I simply won't see his recent films, as I have detested every film he has made since the entertaining (if silly) Gladiator.



Pan's Labyrinth

I remember seeing advertisements for this when it was on release. It looked like a children's film.

It's not. Not many children's films feature a fascist army captain smashing a man's face in with a bottle.

What it is is an enchanting fairytale for adults. The music and story are beautiful.



Moon

Another film I watched without any foreknowledge.

It's like a Blade Runner remade on simpler terms: what will companies do to reduce their overheads?

Again, beautiful music, great film making (including excellent miniature based special effects for the exterior moon sequences), and a moving story.



Collateral

Tom Cruise plays a bad guy? Not just any bad guy, but a grey haired, nihilistic hitman, who believes it's cosmic fate when he's paid to put a bullet in somebody.

A great character study of the two leads, coupled with some frighteningly intense action sequences.