Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #17


End Of The Week Shorts #17

Today's shorts: Kubo And The Two Strings (2016), Love Me Tonight (1932), Bottle Rocket (1996), The Jerk (1979), Faust (1926), Faust: Apparition De Méphistophélès (1897)

Truly spectacular, Kubo And The Two Strings is rife with gorgeous, fluid 3d stop-motion. All of the characters are strong, especially Kubo. Though the minor experience somewhat flat character arcs, they support the growth of Kubo, our protagonist, very well. The only downfalls of Kubo And The Two Strings are a few bits of dialogue which are either a little clunky or are a little too on the nose in translating parts of the narrative subtext. However, story is almost everything in this film; not only is it highly metaphorical and deeply subtexual, but it is imbued with such profundity at many moments. 
Whilst I won't attempt to relay all that makes this narrative great now, as I've only just got through it for the first time, there is an awful lot to Kubo And The Two Strings - more than the dialogue affirms - so I will certainly be returning to it sometime soon.

An enjoyable pre-code picture, though, very predictable and never really impressive. Many characters are likeable, the script is a little bumpy, the songs are ok, but, save one or two, are forgettable and were unable to prick the needle on the meter of my attention. There are many interesting moments of sound design throughout this narrative, which is what I knew this film for going into it, and also a few nice bits of editing. 
However, beyond this there is not much of note about this film. It is certainly not much of a drag and manages to fill its run time with a few entertaining set-pieces - maybe the uncensored original version (which has been lost) would have been a little more captivating. All in all, Love Me Tonight is a few notches above mediocre and not much more.

A strangely beautiful film and probably my favourite Wes Anderson picture. 
Anderson's style isn't as strong as it is in films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, but I think that's contributes to a lot of what makes this film so great. It has a hint of weirdness to it, but that lies mainly within the characters - all of whom are entirely genuine and far too easy to empathise with. I then suppose what distinguishes this film from many of Anderson's others is the fact that story is the star of this narrative, not necessarily Anderson. This gives Bottle Rocket a sense of individuality and focus that really immerses you into the world of our ridiculous, yet lovable characters. 
If you haven't seen it, I would certainly recommend giving it a go.

I didn't hate it, but it's not good - not at all. Steve Martin, in his day, was a comedic force to be reckoned with. The unfortunate thing about comedy, however, is that when it ages, it tends to go sour - and this is the case with Martin's stand-up and his movies in my view. This isn't universally true, and maybe comedies reach a point where they gain a novel quality, but The Jerk hasn't hit this point--not in my opinion anyways. 
None of the jokes hit; they never seemed particularly terrible and I could appreciate the absurdity, but they were just duds. I liked all of the characters enough for the film to keep me engaged and there is an amusing tone underlying the entirety of the narrative, but, I can't say the film is at all good. Maybe if I saw this nearer to when it came out it could hold something more, however, it is what it is.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest stories about corruption and damnation I've ever come into contact with. 
Whilst much of the rich subtext supporting this narrative must be attributed to the German legend, Murnau brings this story into the realm of cinema with astounding force. In fact, the production of Faust is said to have deeply impacted the German film industry on a technical and strategic level, becoming one of the most expensive films made in Germany for about a year until Lang's Metropolis was made. 
The only faults I could find in this film would concern the theatrical nature of the design and performances. Whilst this works in a way I couldn't imagine any other approach working in some scenes, some are left a little ridiculous. Nonetheless, I think it's undeniable that Faust is a silent masterpiece.

This adaptation or re-enactment of a scene from the Faust legend and Goethe's 1808 book, made by the Lumière studios, is indicative of numerous things that many overlook when it concerns the early silent era. Not only does the 1897 Faust serve as an adaptation, but it implies that cinema was often used as a form of dramatisation and as a visual aid of sorts. This means that this film wasn't really supposed to be seen as a story itself, rather, it was a window into a story that audiences were assumed to already know. This may have then been narrated by people as it played out or possibly be presented as part of a wider show. 
And so it is through this film, and others such as the Rip Van Winkle series produced by the Edison Studios in 1903, that we can understand the kind of storytelling that early silent films often represented; they weren't so much platforms for stories, rather aids and implications of already known stories and legends.

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