Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #40


End Of The Week Shorts #40

Today's shorts: What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932), Thor (2011), E.T (1982), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Destiny (1921), The Cremator (1969), The War Game (1965)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a heart-breaking film about being trapped within a bubble of shame and embarrassment - a bubble of love and responsibility - and trying to make it a better place despite the chaos and atrophy around you, despite the pressures overshadowing that bubble and despite the temptations of the world and its freedoms that may lie beyond the shadowed poll you call your life and your family. This is then a film about attempting to traverse an internal corridor of torture that exists between the individual and the collective self. 
Far too easily overlooked and forgotten as one of the most poignant and touching small-town dramas ever made, this is stacked with perfect writing, tremendous performances and so much more. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a classic and a great movie - undeniably so.

Boudu Saved Fom Drowning is a spectacular satirical comedy that is, thematically, quite like Buñuel's Viridiana. However, the comedy of Boudu Saved From Drowning brings about a harmony from chaos that Buñuel doesn't attempt. And in such, this is a simultaneously critical and forgiving film about the pretense of charity and the rules of the bourgeois. Ultimately then, this is a film about freedom, destiny and embracing life as is and as your imperfect self - which is more than refreshing considering the weight of this film's themes if they were taken seriously. 
Energised by tremendous performances and writing, and captured beautifully by Renoir's often unique mise en scene and blocking, this is a pure joy to watch and a film I can't help but recommend.

Quite mediocre, but nonetheless good fun. 
The humour and a few of the characters keep Thor beyond bad. Thor and Loki are then played and written pretty well, and the comedy that revolves around them is pretty strong. However, all of the minor characters are written and played in a highly cliched and senseless manner. The same can be said of the plot: cliched and pretty senseless. And the direction... The constant, constant, dutch angles are truly ridiculous. I don't know how you could think they would work as a director. 
I think the biggest problem with this film is the fact that the director wanted to capture the comic books - which, from what I can tell, are quite dumb. However, that's a subject for another time. All in all, I had a good time with this, but it remains mediocre.

E.T is Spielberg at his absolute best. Heart-breaking, heart-warming, all at once, and brilliantly so. 
This is, in some senses, a film about losing someone (for Elliot it is his father), and then going on an adventure that teaches you how to make a new great friend, but also how to fight to let them go. This is then a story that is as much about building something as it is about seeing it evaporate, yet all whilst retaining faith in memory and hope in what has passed, knowing that, in the abstract, someone can always live on through you. For the way in which this is captured through a child's eyes, and with one of the most magical scores ever composed for a movie, it is undeniable that this is a classic and a Hollywood masterpiece.

Thor: The Dark World is... ok. 
The direction, in comparison to the first Thor, has improved greatly. However, the comedy is in places it needn't be and all the minor characters are still very weak. What's more, I care less for the main characters in this film - mainly because we're not given too much of a reason to like them. This comes down to the unnecessary focus on minor characters (Portman's character is played and acted worst of all), and the journey we see characters go on. Whilst this journey has some nice moments of action, it feels weightless. And where there is weight and drama, it is quite cliched and predictable. This doesn't stop this being watchable, but this is quite a throw-away movie. See it once and you'll have seen it plenty.

Lang's Destiny is a tremendous picture that seemingly sees Sjöström's Phantom Carriage integrated into Griffith's Intolerance. In such, this is an episodic film about death, fate and mourning wrapped in some powerful expressionism. 
With some great special effects and some incredible manipulation of the cinematic space through framing and lighting, this is a striking visual spectacle. Beyond this facade, however, is a complex story in terms of structure and subtext. Whilst some chapters of this episodic story are weaker than others, the front and back end of this narrative solidify it as a masterful silent picture. As this narrative develops, we then learn the true meaning of love being stronger than death; love will not overcome death, but, love, if it is genuine, overshadows all that lies beyond the now. 
For the manner in which the various elements of Destiny meld, this is then a film I won't hesitate in recommending.

A masterful showcase cinematography, camera movement and montage, The Cremator is a dark allegorical analysis of Nazification and the Final Solution. Often lost in between rooms and locations, very rarely having a full grip of what is going on, this film has a staccato formal approach punctuated by biting montage and dizzying zooms that manifests a legato sense of cinematic space that bears a liquid continuity. The discord between form and content, between the juddering mise en scène and smooth character journey, demonstrates a descent into madness catalysed through an obsession with death and purity and characterised, thanks to the jarring form, by absurdity that is sometimes funny, other times horrifying. 
Difficult to analyse, but almost impossible not to be struck by, The Cremator screams "New Wave" and demands to be seen. Highly recommended.

The War Game is a somewhat interesting BBC television documentary about possible nuclear fallout in Britain during the Cold War. Whilst this was made in 1965, it was deemed too horrifying to be screened, and so was held back for 20 years until it was cleared for broadcasting. 
It is clear why this was considered horrifying thanks to some graphic details, gruesome imagery, worry interviews and dumbfounding facts. However, this is very clearly a contrived document that far too often becomes sensationalist - seemingly with the intention of shocking or fear-mongering. The War Game is then ultimately confounding. It seems to bear graphic truth that would do well in shattering all illusions people may have had of nuclear war. However, it is almost always on the brink of sensationalist ridiculousness. In the end, best taken with a pinch of salt.

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