Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #5


End Of The Week Shorts #5

Today's Shorts: Happy Feet (2006), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Broken Blossoms (1919), Spider-Man (2002), A Bride For Rip Van Winkle (2016), An American Werewolf In London (1981), Surf's Up (2007), It's Such A Beautiful Day (2012)

An ingenious concept, brilliantly directed with beautiful imagery and some astounding action set-pieces. The songs are great and the narrative is imbued with a tremendous sense of rhythm and pace. Moreover, many of the characters are well realised, providing multiple moments of hilarity. 
The only down-sides to this narrative are the tone and subtext. Firstly, the tone is pretty cheesy and sometimes a little hard to swallow, intermittently capturing the worst sides of a malconstructed musical. Secondly, this film is a broad critique of religious fundamentalism, ignorance, pollution and over-consumption. In such, it is a meeting of Footloose and every movie about the teenage plight - all with political undertones. Without saying anything profound, this commentary comes off as a little reaching, not to mentioned cliched. 
Nonetheless, this is a pretty brilliant film and a good watch.

Very amusing. A great exercise in eccentricity, weirdness and unconventional characterisation - all captured with a proficient directorial and cinematographic approach; it's shot well and it looks good. 
Whilst I don't love it as much as some would (considering that this is a cult classic) I enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite. The comedy is quite one-note and I probably wouldn't see myself watching it again, but aren't sorry for finally getting around to seeing it. On a final note, I suppose the greatest thing that this narrative has going for it is its capacity to project the strange, madcap and unconventional in a profoundly, and somehow, normal light. In such, by the end of this narrative, you don't have a clear grip on what is normal, what makes sense, who is a nut-job and how things should function in the world surrounding Napoleon. Instead, you just sit back as the credits roll with resolve, kinda happy knowing of this crazy place and its weird characters.

Though D.W Griffith is spectacularly bad, at best, just plain awkward, at depicting other races and cultures, Broken Blossoms is a pretty incredible film. So, looking past the constant use of 'Chink' and 'The Yellow Man', you can kind of see Griffith's ongoing attempt to make up for A Birth Of A Nation in this narrative. 
Beyond this, seen as a highly romantic melodrama, Broken Blossoms has a poignant narrative, moved along by compelling characters and a powerful tragic climax. However, I'd very readily concede to the idea that this is an overly melodramatic film that can, at times, fall past romanticism and into some other creepy and rather awkward realm. So, depending on how you approach this film, you're likely to come away with something quite different to many others. 
One detail that cannot be disputed, however, is the technical approach in the direction, editing and photography. With strict and disciplined cinematic language (sometimes a few too many title cards) this narrative is imbued with a modern sense of articulation. And all of this is given great energy and pace by brilliant editing - especially in the third act. But, the best detail of Broken Blossoms - by far - are the close-ups. I honestly doubt you will find better textured and emotive close-ups in all of cinema--they are extraordinary. 
So, all in all, it'd be difficult to recommend Broken Blossoms to everyone. Nonetheless, this is an exceptional silent film.

Very distinctly a movie made in 2002. Nonetheless, Spider-Man is... d-d-d-damn good. I think it just falls below Spider-Man 2, but has all that made the second great present within; everything from the playful direction, to the strong characterisation, to the rich joyous tone, to the immersive atmosphere. 
The only things you could nit-pick out as bad would be a few bits of action that, as said, distinguish this movie as one made in 2002 - also, bits of acting do this too. The only detail of Spider-Man that somewhat stuck out to me, however, was the cinematography. Simply put, this isn't the best looking movie - especially during the first act. The lighting seemed too hard and the colouration gave the film a very light and cheesy aesthetic that didn't play well with the the already near-cheesy tone set by the script. 
Despite all of this, re-watching Spider-Man was a great experience - and this is still way up there as one of my favourite superhero movies ever.

A Bride For Rip Van Winkle is uncannily excellent. Technically proficient in almost every single way, the story is what truly shines from this film. In such, it is a profound dissection of human bonds and the manner in which we interact. 
Having watched the almost 3 hour director's cut, I'd have to say that some sequences were a little too far stretched. However, this was something of a minor pacing issue as every detail of the longer version does eventually come together. And, as mentioned, this all builds to a powerful commentary on human interaction in the modern age. Through a meandering and seemingly plot-less narrative we are then lead to explore themes of isolation, distrust, betrayal and, eventually, an overwhelming, almost alien, sense of communal harmony. 
However, words couldn't do this narrative justice, so make sure you find and watch this one.

Unexpectedly amazing; surprisingly stupendous; quite brilliant. 
An American Werewolf In London is great play with a classical story and archetypal premise, one that creates a very unique blend of comedy and horror. Whilst there are huge tonal inconsistencies produced by the two conflicting genres, this is clearly the experiment that John Landis means to conduct throughout this narrative. Moreover, though this blend of genres isn't fine-tuned and crisply executed, this film has such an idiosyncratic character - one that is almost perfect in its own way. The only detail that is somewhat disappointing is the up-and-down quality of the sound design. But, beyond this, the idiosyncratic texture of this narrative overlaying the blend of American cinematic sensibilities and British aesthetics and acting (acting which isn't too good) resulted in a giddily good experience. 
So, add to this the great design work and practical effects and you have a quintessential horror film that needs to be seen by everyone.

Utter genius. Surf's Up is not only the best penguin movie ever made (if such a genre can be claimed to exist) and probably Shia Labeouf's best movie, but one of the best animated American films ever conceived. 
With phenomenal performances all-round and a perfectly executed premise - one that has latent brilliance written all over it - Surf's Up gets better every single time I re-watch it. Every minute detail of animation and 'camera work' has very clearly been meticulously created, conjuring wondrous aesthetics and an almost absurd amount of verisimilitude for a cartoon mockumentary about surfing flightless birds. I urge anyone who hasn't seen this recently to re-watch it just for the small bits of animation - the way a log rolls, the manner in which characters act when not the focus, the way waves roll and water spurts. 
Beyond this, Surf's Up is smart, witty and without an whiff of being just a kid's movie. I could go on to praise this film for thousands of more words, but I'll end with a final recommendation: go see this movie.

Phenomenal. Basically perfect. 
It's Such a Beautiful Day is a powerful surrealist exploration of mental illness, time and existential being through an abstract narrative whose ability to navigate emotional peaks and troughs is entirely astounding. In such, this film blends experimental aesthetics with simplistic animation to convey complex ideas in the most direct and articulate manner, producing a wondrous and entirely unique cinematic experience that I will certainly be immersing myself in time and time again.

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