Monthly Archives: January 2012

Shame by Steve McQueen

First question that comes to mind is: why. Why was this film made? Second question is: what is its meaning. What was the important message that the writer-director wanted to convey?

Unfortunately I cannot answer neither of the two above questions. It is not entertainment. Not even the sensational kind.

The lighting is fantastic, the background music very well scored, both leading stars provide great performances. And yet, I don’t know what this film wants to tell me. I’m not buying this one.

The main character is not credible. It is unclear as to what his job is. It seems that he is a non-important clerk in a large corporation. He does nothing in the office – why so many office scenes then? He arrives late, takes long lunch breaks – as if he was Don Draper. But Don Draper, apart from those features, is a brilliant businessman. Don Draper also is a sex addict and his story has the charm and power that “Shame” does not deliver. What a shame…

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Doctor Zhivago by David Lean

Made in 1965 – an adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s autobiographical novel (Nobel awarded) which was banned in Soviet Russia for over five decades.

197 minute long and yet – it does not seem too long. This is an epic film surprisingly realistic given it was mainly a British production.

This film is a proof that truly great cinema does not age. I was surprised. As not that many films actually pass the exam of time. The characters are flesh & blood, costumes as well as set decorations made with a meticulous attention to detail. Although a few goofs have been revealed by IMDB, it is a fantastic film conveying the spirit of the Soviet Russia, its attempts at intervening in individual’s life, career, social and personal relationships, reading and much more.

The love story within a tragic triangle resonates in 21st century as it did at the beginning of 20th.

If you ever have a chance – watch it. A definite must!

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The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius

Silent movie, in black&white. With text boards to highlight essential bits of dialogue. So annoying! I couldn’t lip-read and a silent movie is such an enormous effort one has to make to focus on the plot and imagine the dialogue! For it is a full blown silent movie. With the exaggerated acting and gesture, with theatrical miming, with so much unexplained. And yet, the schema is magnified and in the majority of cases the following plot points are easily preempted and obvious. The film depicts an idyllic world, where money is only a topic when it suits the plot and in general no serious issues are touched upon.

I believe the crew had an incredible amount of fun making the film. It is made in full (as close as possible) in the genre, only the music is added to the soundtrack rather than played by the orchestra in the cinema!

Interesting experiment. I felt that had they done the same in colour – a lot would be gained. The costumes, the props were a great effort and a lot is lost in b&w technique.

It is not a must though. There are other films in the cinemas these days that may be more worth watching. It’s good, but not brilliant in my humble opinion.

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Manhattan by Woody Allen

The classic, considered by some one of the best films of the century.

At the BFI screening, the cinema was packed as during film festivals.

Black&White, with – as always – incredible dialogues and great actors.

Made in 1979, it bears the magic of 1970’s and yet the dialogues are brilliantly universal and could easily be imagined as uttered these days by contemporary snobbish New Yorkers.

Great cinema, accompanied by music by George Gershwin and fantastic shots of Manhattan.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

Road to Perdition by Sam Mendes

In my own personal ‘Catching Up’ section.

There is no protagonist. Only the antagonists. Played by actors who normally only play the protagonists. Therefore you get an orchestra of stars playing against their emploi. These include Daniel Craig, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.

Set in 1930’s marked by prohibition in America. Hence the blooming mafia and family businesses.

The only crack is the happy ending.

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