Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #84


End Of The Week Shorts #84

Today's shorts: Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge (2016), Derren Brown: Sacrifice (2018), Derren Brown: Miracle (2016), Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans (1927), Anjelah Johnson: Not Fancy (2015), Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (2016), Creed (2015), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Pretty brilliant.

Whilst entry-level psychology classes could essentially teach you the same thing about human behaviour - about conformity, authority and social pressure - as Pushed to the Edge, this succeeds with its use of drama. It is then watching a story unfold, real characters develop and struggle, that makes this so engrossing and facts supported by much scientific data and historical instances palpable. Equally fascinating is the choice as to who to follow in this. Without spoiling anything, it first of all helps generate tension, but goes on to poke at our presuppositions. Alas, in total, a one-time watch, but a good one.

Sacrifice is most intriguing when juxtaposed with Pushed to the Edge. Where one experiment deals with murder, the other deals with saving a life, but both are equally focused on cynicism, on how malleable we believe people to be. That said, and maybe this says something about my own cynicism, Sacrifice is not too interesting. Playfulness aside, I don't think this has too much to do with a doubt in humanity. Rather, the methodology of this experiment is simply far less dramatic than Pushed to the Edge's. Following a single subject, carefully picked so that he would pass the test, this is far more biased and controlled than its predecessor. One does not then feel that humanity is really poked at and questioned here - and primarily because we aren't allowed to associate with the subject as he essentially is defined as, at the very least, a boarder-line racist waiting to become a hero. I very much so appreciate the point made on how even slightly extreme types can be transformed, but, this just wasn't as wholly affecting as Brown's previous work. Nonetheless, fascinating.

Cheeky, provocative, quite a lot of fun.

A whole heap of parlour tricks you've seen before are thrown in our face, magic and mysticism debunked, but not obliterated; their essence removed and put some place else, some place dark and gloomy, but unprotected and passingly accessible. Not a game-changer for me personally, this was just a solid chunk of entertainment.

No matter how many times I see this, I'm still impressed by its technical brilliance. In essence, it is the blend of impressionism and expressionism that make this a masterpiece. It is being made to feel the silent archetypes permeate trough space and time as well as see their melodrama exude across the screen that creates a perfect psychic harmony; a comfort and terror found in the realm of cinema being cinema, art being art, to simple perfection. Without pretence, this functions like music - indeed, a song. We exist from state to state with characters, we enjoy their day, we fall through a tremendous roller-coaster ride - the kind days only a relationship between two faulted humans in love can be made of (but, of course, melodramatised) - and thus find ourselves lost in the transcendental scope of profound and true melos. As always, a masterpiece.

All the laughs are stockpiled into the final sequence - which, as stereotypical and childish as the Vietnamese accent is, I won't deny crumbling into laughter whist hearing it. But, whilst the laughs aren't really there, this was pleasant, light and unpretentious. Far too much comedy is benign and self-important - just tell a good story; truth and all that other stuff will naturally follow if you tell it well. Don't tell me about comedy, tell me about you. Don't tell me about what you see, show me how you think and how you are. Johnson's stage persona seems slightly contrived, so she doesn't tick all the boxes, but she stays within the lines quite brilliantly. Much appreciated.

Too hard it is to have trust in another's ecstatic experience. Too easy it is to be sceptical of mass ecstasy.

Hard to watch, but, silently, I managed to listen and hear a call to understand oneself and try to take control. From having nothing apart from vague assumption about Robbins in me to being thrown into this, I have to admit feeling like jumping into freezing cold water. Still sceptical, trying not to die in my head, I'll merely say that this is fascinating.

Probably the third or fourth best film in the Rocky series, certainly subservient to the first two films and maybe even IV.

Whilst I like Creed quite a bit, what I like about it are the elements that make it a 'Rocky film'. I appreciate Michael B. Jordan's performance and think his character is satisfactorily drawn out, but don't think he holds a candle to Sly as Rocky. As counter-intuitive as some may think this to be, this suffers from the lack of melodrama and furthermore suffers from the realism and use of real boxers. In fact, this falls down a hole that the fifth Rocky film did in doing so and which the sixth, Rocky Balboa, kind of crawled out of. But, like its 2006 predecessor, whilst this has flash and directorial uniqueness to it, I feel it lacks wholeness and a unity that only archetypes and melodrama can seal. I plan to write more about this, but I'll leave things as such.

From quite a young age I had just assumed I had watched the entire Rambo series. I must have dreamed this delusion into existence as I remember now never being allowed to watch these as a kid. Alas, whilst I managed to see First Blood whilst too young, I can now say I've seen part 2.

What can be said about this? It can be lambasted for its macho stupidity, but, such criticism is low-shelf nonsense. Rambo is something of an expressionist melodrama, a stoic confrontation of ones own patriotism and heroism. This is no doubt silly, but it's far from stupid; quite far from macho in my estimation too - at least in the boisterous, opening of Predator or first act of Aliens, respect. This is rather humble in scope, technically focused in its story-boarding and thematically written. It deserves no awards for such things, but takes itself serious enough to gain my respect.

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