Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #62


End Of The Week Shorts #62

Today's shorts: Oasis (2002), Amélie (2001), A Short Film About Killing (1988), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), It (2017), Dumbo (1941), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), Dangal (2016)

'Challenging' would be the wrong word to precisely describe Lee Chang-dong's Oasis, but 'challenging' is all I am able to muster.

To come to terms with this narrative - one that follows a mentally disabled man and a woman with cerebral palsy who fall in love - I found it best to think in terms of time and time alone, for it is time that is extended almost exhaustively over the 130+ minute run-time, and time that impresisonistically gives us a sense of what it means to be in the various given situations; to watch without the ability to effect, to feel without being able to speak, to see without clarity and to perceive without understanding. It is through the almost unbearable extension of time that Chang-dong shows what is real without subjective certainty ever being allowed to be asserted - either by himself or the audience. What, then, is the moral of this tale? My only answer: to wait.

Amélie has been a true personal favourite and has sat closest to my core for about 4 years now. Throughout each of my re-watches over the past year or so, I've been trying to figure out why, and today, whilst I feel that the narrative isn't as close as it once was, I'm growing more confident in my reasoning for why I like this movie.

I won't put down a personal biography, but, suffice to say that Amélie is a movie about having developed a sphere around oneself that acts as a protective seal, yet is beginning to suffocate. In recognition of the fact that what has been cultivated through the strengthening of character has shut too many people out, kept them at a distance too far, Amélie tasks herself by opening up her personal sphere and introducing into it someone like herself. Whilst this is then a very simple story of opening up, through my eyes it is an encapsulation of far more than can be uttered.

A Short Film About Killing sees Kieślowski focus on his cornerstone technique of abstract narrative juxtaposition. In such, he contrasts birth with death, a start with an end, law and murder and innocence and evil. Unfortunately, however, I just didn't feel anything of much note emerge from his somewhat stale and simplistic juxtapositions. As a result, nothing jumped out and grabbed, nor drew me into this narrative. The characters weren't intriguing, the thematic choices don't produce particularly riveting drama, and so this is left a rather procedural set of events with hints of contemplation splattered along.

Having only seen this once, I don't want to judge it too harshly, but, unlike Kieślowski's other works, films such as Three Colours: Red, this just hasn't spoken to me.

I suppose the highest praise one can put on upon this film is also the deepest cut one can slice into it. That is then to point at the exuberant and unending Englishness that drives this film and makes it so famous. To critique The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, one is pretty much criticising England and its upper class limb in the army as it was between the late 19th century and the mid 20th century; whilst it has a facade of decorum, of elegance, of honour and that particularly English mix of charm and pigheadedness, this facade entirely masks far less honourable and elegant realities of war and imperialism. And, in being English to its core, this is what The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is; it is sentimental and romantic to a fault, using satire to loosely allude to the darker side of the world wars, the battles in the empire and the people who pervaded over them, but says and does nothing of substance in face of this. As a result, there is entertainment to be found here and novelty--maybe depth--in the encapsulation of Englishness, but nonetheless an unambiguous lack of self-reflection.

Intensely brilliant. I still believe that It is one of the very best modern horror films.

Too ambiguous to pin down precisely, It is about the nature of secrets. The clown archetype embodies all that this film is about; the clown has a facade of joy and happiness, but all too easily is this seen through. What is horrifying about the clown is not the make-up, nor is it the man underneath it, it is the illusion that resides between the make-up and the man, the lie and the truth; the failing secret. Such characterises a break from childhood: suddenly our eyes start to see what adults have hidden from us, and it can be terrifying.

There is more to this story, but suffice to say that it is masterfully told, making this far more than a horror movie. This might just be a personal favourite.

I've seen it a trillion times, but it gets no worse. On each re-watch, I'm still taken aback by the profound charm and moral fibre of this narrative, its ability to use music and emotion, less complex animation, to reach out and take hold of its viewer. Whilst you could put this down to this being a relatively cheap production for Disney that would follow the box-office bomb that was Fantasia, I believe Dumbo's greatest asset is its simplicity: the brevity of the tale, the focus on one character in one moment who is isolated by all (narratively and aesthetically). One only needs to look at the backgrounds and minor characters to realise how a lack of detail focuses the story's eye onto the main character. But, even within such a simple tale, Disney were still willing to take a huge risk with the drunk dream sequence - one of the best sequences Disney has ever created.

In the end, watching this makes me even more downhearted that Disney is going to add this to the list of their live-action remakes. Some may say the live-action film is cute or whatever, but I doubt it will have the simplicity, poignancy or true moral purity of the original.

... some films make me question why I like cinema so much.

I was trapped in a room with this on loop for around 4 hours. Luckily, I couldn't see the screen and was busy, but, I could hear the movie pretty well, and it didn't make my day much better. I instantly recognised this trash as I am unfortunately incredibly familiar with it because of younger siblings. It can be hard to talk down on this for the pure fact that it is aiming to be childish nonsense. And so whilst I see no real virtue in a movie trying to be for kids and turning out... like this, I find it hard to get angry. Suffice to say though that the embarrassment that the filmmakers creating and editing this should have been feeling was transposed onto me in the narratives most cliched, loud and ludicrous moments. So, I suppose all I can is: thanks.

A re-watch today confirms that this is a brilliant movie and colossal force of entertainment.

The meaning of the narrative is not subtle; it is pretty much on the poster. However, despite its arguably predictable nature, this hits every single one of its beats brilliantly with almost every action sequence flowing smoothly into the narrative, never calling attention to itself as faked nonsense. With this crucial aspect of the movie nailed, one can be immersed in character within a somewhat unique incarnation of the classical Bollywood narrative; trial and sacrifice characterises the parent-child relationship, the child rebels before realising the reasoning of the parent.

To analyse the nature of this as a biopic of the real Phogat family, one can easily criticise the selectivity and favouritism put on display. But, as is, this is plainly tremendous. I'll recommend this again.

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