Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #36


End Of The Week Shorts #36

Today's shorts: Fifty (2015), Jawbone (2017), The Warriors (1979), High and Low (1963), Dunkirk (2017), Dhobi Ghat (2011), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Moor (2015)

For the most part, Fifty is an urban melodrama about dissatisfied rich people, reality T.V, cheating, sour friendships, broken family relations, getting old, etc. As meaningless and depthless as all of this is, it is rather entertaining. As the ever intensifying drama continually bumps up gears, it is then hard to disengage the narrative and stop enjoying its slight absurdity. This is because of ok performances, amusing writing and competent direction. However, as we move into the final act of this narrative, some heavy and dark themes are raised. And suffice to say, they aren't treated with the caution and respect needed. This pushes Fifty beyond entertaining melodrama and into ridiculousness, leaving it more meaningless than it needed to be.

Whilst Jawbone doesn't present anything particularly new or original, it takes a realist approach to the dumps-to-triumphs story, capturing highly believable characters and some genuine snapshots of life. Our protagonist is played pretty well, but Ray Winstone as the archetypal gruff, but warm-hearted, Londoner that we've all seen before steals the best scenes. Aesthetically, this is a crisp movie; it bears the realist independent style that, again, we would have all seen before, but really steps up its game in the boxing sequences where a slow shutter speed is put to great impressionistic use in conjuncture with a circulating, loose camera and some sharp-edged editing. 
All in all, this is a solid movie. It's far from a masterpiece, but it's worth the watch.

The Warriors is a movie about the fall of an anarchist state leading to the dissolution of corrupt and malevolent childishness in a persecuted gang and the consequential forming of genuine relationships within it. There is then a strange sense of romance and naivety embedded into this film that leaves it an allegory about the coming of age of troublesome city kids caught up in urban chaos; from industrial darkness, they see light and manage to survive another day in the city. 
Whilst I quite like this narrative drive, there is no denying that this is a very clunky movie in regards to direction, editing, writing and acting. The Warriors has its positives and negatives; it's a pretty good movie.

Meticulous, and so air-tight, but simultaneously morally ambiguous, and so wide open, High and Low is a tremendous journey film about sacrifice and meaning. In such, this film is constantly asking its characters what they are willing to sacrifice (what they should sacrifice) and why. There is then a constant conflict between personal security - material, physical and psychological - and transcendent harmony - a sense of security that we can only feel when we are sure we are following the right moral pathway in a life of potential suffering. 
So, though this presents itself as a precise mystery-thriller, do not go into High and Low blind to subtext. There is so much more to uncover beneath its surface. Highly recommended.

The only positive thing I can care to say about Dunkirk is that it is shot well. Beyond that fact, Nolan constructs a film that plays like an-out-of-tune guitar with one old, grimy string; it doesn't sound at all good, but it exists on a flat plane and so there is no chance of being struck by any real discord. The editing is drab, the writing is heartless, the performances are unengaging, the direction is mundane, the sound design is satisfactory and the cinematic space has no personality. For 100 or so minutes I felt like I was watching clouds skate across the sky on a miserable, overcast day. 
Thoroughly unimpressive - though I can't say I was expecting much. I didn't know I was this little of a fan of Nolan.

Pleasantly captivating, Dhobi Ghat is a film that explores abstract, fleeting and recurrent relationships in conjuncture with art (and so this film has some ties to Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par). 
Whilst this is structured and shot beautifully, there are many weak figures that lessen the quality of this narrative with both their presence and performances. Moreover, even in the main roles, we find weaknesses in character construction. Because of sometimes shaky writing and acting, the poetic nature of this film then fluctuates between being genuine and seeming rather empty. So, despite the fact that I was fully immersed in this narrative and was struck by some intimate sequences, I can't help but note the faults in this film. Imperfect, but watchable.

Rife with everything that the name Michael Bay connotes, Transformers: The Last Knight is a blend of some of the greatest production values you can find in all of cinema and, simultaneously, some of the cheapest cinematic techniques that the form bears. Whilst I won't say that this movie is horrifically made, I will just again say that this is a Michael Bay movie and we should all know what that means. 
That said, I loved this movie. I never mention this - and have at times implied the contrary - but I actually like all of the Transformers films. In a sense, yes, they are very bad. However, for a vast set of reasons, I enjoy and admire this film series - and ever more increasingly as each film comes out. As absurd as this sounds, it's the truth. And with that out of the bag, I'll some day soon have a lot of explaining to do.

I found a little bit of trouble in following Moor's plot, but, with help from my girlfriend, managed to work my way through this despite some terrible subtitles. 
This is a film both about corruption in rural Pakistan that is thematically linked to generational rifts between sons, fathers, mothers and the land through an intricately designed plot driven by the incredibly significant symbol of the train. Incredibly shot and edited, Moor is highly evocative but can sometimes fail to immerse you into the narrative and dramaturgy because of its complexity. Nonetheless, with a second watch, I feel that Moor would be far more striking. After this first watch, all I can then emphasise is the technical and aesthetic wonder of Moor.

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