Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick Film Reviews #4

Seems a long time since I watched Fargo; I guess it's about a month and a half. Most people have probably seen it, which is good because I don't have much to say about it, although it is a wonderfully formed film. The contrast between the bleak, violent and very blackly comic world of the kidnap plot and the warm and mundane life of the police and residents of Brainerd.

La Jetée
Known mainly as the inspiration for Twelve Monkeys, this 30-40 minute "photo-novel" is a remarkable film. It's told mostly with a narrator and black and white stills, though some are shaky or are cycled quickly to give an impression of movement. It's economical but very effective.

Sans Soleil
Sharing a disc with La Jetée, and by the same director, Sans Soleil is a kind of rambling film essay/letter collection. It's primarily focussed on Japan, with a little less on an African country (I don't remember which) and a little on Iceland. Some of the stuff in there is fascinating, but on the whole I didn't find the footage incredibly engaging or the text particularly illuminating. Perhaps it might become clearer with another viewing, but really, I couldn't be bothered.

I was rather excited about seeing Stalker, and a little disappointed. It's philosophical science fiction from Andrei Tarkovsky, with the emphasis on the philosophy. An impact from space has created a mysterious and dangerous "zone". At the centre of the zone is a room that is said to grant wishes. The zone is sealed off by police, but guides known as stalkers guide small number of people past the barbed wire and through the zone. On first viewing it was very opaque, on second, the religious analogies were a lot more obvious. Despite some interesting content and a few wonderfully shot and soundtracked scenes, I still think it's a bit too inaccessible and doesn't quite have the atmosphere I was looking forward to.
update: although I wasn't so impressed by it at the time, Stalker is a film that has stayed with me. It must have got under my skin more than I thought.

Do The Right Thing
A long way from Stalker, full of shouting, city and black people. Do The Right Thing is a well made ensemble piece from Spike Lee, looking at (kind of unsurprisingly) the tensions in a black neighbourhood. The most remarkable thing about it is that the main character, who I gauged at somewhere between 15 and 20 years old, was played by 30 year-old Spike Lee. After seeing the credits I had to check there wasn't by coincidence another Spike Lee who happened to star in a Spike Lee film.

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