Usually I release 8 short reviews every Sunday. However, this week I found myself with an awful lot of time on my hands and ended up watching and reviewing a few more than 8 films. So, I've split these posts up into a 6.1 and 6.2 and will continue to do this in the future if I run over 8 films a week.
Today's Shorts: Doctor Dolittle (1998), World Of Tomorrow (2015), The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (1964), Blow Out (1981), Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975), Vernon, Florida (1981), L’Âge D’Or (1930), The Only Son (1936)
I remember watching this movie as a kid and being amused by it. Having re-watched it after many years... yeesh. With one or two funny moments and a few touches of Murphy's charisma (however watered down) this film isn't unbearable, but, undeniably poor nonetheless.
We all know this kind of movie, it's the one with a star or two, a high concept and a bunch of family-friendly elements - here we have an array of talking animals (a subject that I don't even have a single care to delve into). Moreover, this is a remake. So, written all over this is 'plain money grab'. And this rings through the performances, the direction, the writing - everything. Clearly no one making this film cared that much, or had the talent to hide that fact.
Ultimately, there's not much you can say about this kind of film. I simply wish I hadn't re-visited it.
With some nice voice performances and some brilliant visuals, World Of Tomorrow is an endearing short. The sci-fi concepts layered onto this imbue the charming tone with immense ingenuity, and the philosophical notions, another layer of complexity. As a whole, World Of Tomorrow is then intricately profound in a subtle way as it explores concepts of time in relation to humanity and its associated tools.
But, I'm ultimately left with little to say about this short that isn't spoiler ridden - and delving into spoilers doesn't seem necessary with such an expressive short - so do yourself a favour and check out Hertzfeldt's World Of Tomorrow.
A classical bittersweet romance about time, patience, young love, loss and compromise, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a fine picture. But, whilst I appreciate the film, I didn't enjoy the story much as there is far too much of a focus on the character of Geneviève as played by Catherine Deneuve - who, to put it lightly, isn't a very compelling figure. In fact, with her as a central figure, this narrative spirals into depressive (somewhat realistic) dead-ends that, despite giving much weight and poignancy to the overall narrative message, simply aren't very compelling.
And on the note of this being a musical, all I have to say is that this the kind that has singing throughout - as in, every word of dialogue is sung - which will of course deter many people. Whilst I didn't particularly enjoy this as it didn't give the narrative a particularly musical quality, instead a pseudo-rhythmic tone, it grows on you and eventually distinguishes itself as a style unto itself.
In the end, whilst this is a little bit of a hard story to swallow with a few formal downfalls, it certainly has a lot my respect.
Before anything... the end... wow. Immensely powerful. If you need a reason to watch this movie, there it is.
If you still need persuasion, look no further than De Palma's masterful direction. A New Hollywood giant that is somewhat overshadowed by the likes of Scorsese and Coppola, De Palma directs the fuck out of this movie - and there's no other ways you can say that. The camera work and mise en scène are tremendously conceived and managed, bringing out the absolute best in this already stellar script with beautiful cinematic language. The only elements of this film that you may critique are, somewhat ironically, bits of the sound design; the sound track is a little jarring. Added to this, whilst Travolta is superb, Nancy Allen... ehhh... not so much.
Nonetheless, Blow Out is phenomenal film seemingly constructed by cinematic masterminds.
I've seen this film twice now, and still aren't very impressed. Whilst it certainly ranks way up there as one of the most graphic and disturbing movies you'll ever see, it's not that clever in my opinion. Moreover, whilst Pasolini's mise en scène is often pretty strong, there is a tremendous sense of restriction an inarticulation about the camera work. With technical flaws such as a lack of focus and with pretty bland aesthetics, Salò is then imbued with a simple sense of distaste and frustration - as opposed to a concise and fluent critique of fascism and other political tangents. This reduces the brutal depictions of rape and torture of all kinds to witless exploitation that's simply not very engaging.
I suppose the only redeeming element of this film is that fact that it does commit to going pretty far with its morbid themes and does contain the bemused and petty terrifying gaze of Aldo Valletti as The President. Beyond this, I doubt I'll be giving Salò another chance any time soon.
There's not much you can say about this documentary. It is nothing more than random scenes with random figures from Vernon, Florida. But, I have to say it was almost transportive; you are entirely sucked into this small town and just talked at by truly eccentric characters - one completely obsessed with turkey hunting, another transfixed by a creek, a priest that can't stop rambling about the word 'therefore' in the bible, an old guy with a turtle and a possum... it goes on. If you were then to define this documentary as anything, it is a lasting voice to anonymity.
And if this sounds even slightly interesting to you, certainly check this out as it is quite an experience to say the least.
I tried and failed to keep up with this one.
Though it is visually inspiring and narratively immersive, I can't and won't say anything more than I need to watch L'Age D'Or a few more times.
A flawless film by one of the greatest directors of all time, The Only Son is Ozu's first talkie and a poignant exploration of familial bonds (as with all of Ozu's films) under the guise of success.
With a uniquely constructed mise en scène, The Only Son encapsulates Ozu's minimalist style perfectly, drawing you into the narrative where you're kept by the masterful edit. And so, with brilliant pacing, there is no sense of a run-time as you watch this film; you're simply enthralled by the realist and minute character conflicts captured by this impeccable script. This all comes together to produce a touching depiction of incredibly moving and subtle themes concerned with becoming a good person, honouring those who sacrifice so much for you, and simply giving something back in life.
Words can't then do this narrative much justice, so make sure you watch The Only Son if you haven't yet seen it.
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