Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #52


End Of The Week Shorts #52

Today's shorts: On The Town (1949), They Came From Beyond Space (1967), Tales From The Crypt (1972), Kinetta (2005), Funeral Parade Of Roses (1969), Scenes From A Marriage (1973), 12 Strong (2018), Dil Se (1998)

Fun, but most certainly flawed. 
This is Donen and Kelly's first time co-directing together, and, impressive of a debut On The Town is, it lacks something key that all musicals desperately need: the false cinematic space; a space in which we'd accept characters spontaneously bursting out with song and dance. The clunky, super-camp sailor outfits don't suite the gritty atmosphere and textures of on-location New York, a backdrop so obviously far better suited for crime, cop and gangster films. This discord in the frame hinders audience engagement, and so it is only when we slip deeper into dance numbers and into constructed sets that characters start to shine through, the tone harmonises and we can flow with the film. With some excellent characters in the taxi driver, Hilde, and Miss Turnstiles, and some brilliant latter numbers, this is good when it figures out its place, but, of course, pales in comparison to Donen and Kelly's next collaboration in 1952. Worth the watch.

I went into They Came From Beyond Space expecting a horrific American B-picture. What you get, however, is a cheap British picture considered the one of the worst films ever produced by Eastman Colour, but, in comparison to the trash coming from America in the 50s especially, this is just clunky and a bit boring. 
Whilst I was delighted to see, not tin foil hats, but silver caps that aren't much better, this feels far more modern than even high-end 50s sci-fi films. With attempts towards James Bond-esque action, a complex moral premise and even with a diverse cast that (to a good degree) is attempting to reflect multiculturalism in 60s Britain, this very much so feels like a precursor to the kind of sci-fi we get nowadays. Probably not worth it if you're not interested in the history of sci-fi, They Came From Beyond Space is, at the least, quite fascinating.

An episodic horror film that features a selection of shorts depicting the fatal sins of a group of sight-seers. 
I've said this before, and I'll say it again, I don't see much reason or purpose in episodic films--I'm just not a fan of them. So often inviting qualitative comparison before providing a cohesive narrative and a full set of characters, the episodic film is usually a set of mini-spectacles that would benefit more from elaboration as opposed to juxtaposition with other shorts. In being directed by just Freddie Francis, Tales From The Crypt is better, aesthetically and stylistically, unified than other films featuring multiple directors. This provides the opportunity for thematic resonance across the different shorts, and this is arguably achieved quite well with the latter, stronger shorts. Ultimately, the glue keeping the shorts together is rather weak, leaving you with only an ok film.

There's not much worth in comparing Lanthimos' films to one another in terms of quality as they're all so individually directed and voiced, but, from the jump with his first stand-alone feature (he had co-directed a comedy before this) Lanthimos seems to have been acutely aware of what he wanted and how he was going to achieve it. 
Using the low-budget, incredibly rough aesthetic to his advantage, creating messy motion paintings with bursts of bright colour and blurred figures, Lanthimos tells a tale of seclusion and its little absurdities. One of the most tame and realistic Lanthimos films to date, Kinetta is about a small cast/crew of three individuals trying to shoot an awkward scene for a movie. Very much so about the creation of Lanthimos' idiosyncratic drama, finely tuned into his themes of privacy and care, Kinetta is a silent blur of small happenings that ever so subtly emanate warmth. So glad to have finally been able to watch this movie.

Watching this for the first time today, I have to say that this was, more than anything else, too opaque, quite jittery and even a little drab. 
Combining melodrama with absurdity, avant-garde experimentation, playful rule bending and documentary, Funeral Parade of Roses tries to tell a story about the troubled life of a transvestite. Whilst each form of investigation has its merits, aesthetically and formally, each strand proves to be fascinating or intriguing in its own right, but not necessarily in conjuncture with all that is around it. Without a strong sense of cohesion this then feels like New Wave garble, more concerned with abstract deconstruction than the construction of a story, character or piece of art. 
With that said, however, I certainly feel another watch may reveal another film. So, take my words as they are.

I'm not married, but I think I know a little bit about love, and it seems Bergman says almost all there is to be said about it, constructing a film about an unconditional love that is made to weather the most torrential and unending of storms. Is this true love? Is this married life? 
Certainly Scenes From A Marriage cannot be boiled down to just this, but it seems that love, to Bergman, is not tangible, is not an emotion, is not an action, but an accumulation of memory. Love is shared. But, simultaneously, love is lost upon people; if love is true, it seems you can never know it fully, never grip it, sort your life out around it, or even constructively talk about it. They say communication is the most important thing in relationships. For Bergman, communication destroys love, builds love, questions love and tests love. Love is between and beyond two people, ventured towards and through with words of spite and warmth and upon feet that always seem to know where they're going despite the fact that the mind whirls in ceaseless unknowing. A masterpiece and a must-see.

Not terrible, but not much more than an average war movie that boasts neo-Western set-pieces with gun-toting soldiers on horses that are rendered quite unspectacular by thoughts of Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. 
Beyond being a strong technical achievement, 12 Strong is trying to honour a successful mission and embed meaning into the War on Terror and the post-9/11 War in Afghanistan. Its revisionism and specific perspective on recent history have proven controversial and, ultimately, the intentions of this film are certainly a little questionable. It is easy to say that this wants to glorify bravery, but such an aim proves itself to be quite shallow with the narrow scope of the thematic and subtextual perspective and limited depth of character analysis. When will we get a 21st century Apocalypse Now? Has anyone in Hollywood got that in them? I wonder...

Certainly ambitious. Successful in all its aims? It's hard to say. 
Dil Se (From The Heart) poses one question that ultimately proves itself to be a little too simple: Can love overcome terrorism? Even with a thematic complexification of 'love' - this is a journey through the '7 Shades of Love': attraction, infatuation, love, reverence, worship, obsession and death - its thematic collision with terrorism bears no fruit. So, though this has much worth as a romance, a question of what can keep lovers apart, Dil Se has little worth as political statement on terrorism, wrapped up in vengeance and partition, emerging from Northeast Indian states. More than worth watching for its tremendous musical numbers and powerful cinematography, but, despite the often successful jumps between realism and melodrama, the thriller in this romantic-thriller simply doesn't provide much of real depth.

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