Archive for Films
It works. Any film that adapts Jack Kerouac’s novel is always going to prove a difficult endeavour. It’s a winding tale of freedom, drink, drugs and blended sexuality which when put to film, risks losing the essence it commands. By packaging freedom on screen, you risk missing the book’s message, but as a factual realisation goes, it’s close to what it needs to be.
Full of strong performances and sweeping vistas, the film bounces around America with raw energy. Racing through the states, high on pot, life and promiscuous behaviour, its director has at least bottled some of the Beat spirit.
It was always going to be a troublesome film. Society is supposedly free from archaic traditionalism, but in some ways it’s as conservative as it’s ever been. The film isn’t for the faint hearted – sexuality is presented in its clearest form – a humanist love, male or female. Recreational drug use seems romantic, creative and right. Whether it’s bombing along at suicidal speeds in a stolen car or pilfering gas, breaking the law is merely a way to make it further down the road.
Amid the Proust, jazz, Benzedrine, orgies and sheer, unadulterated freedom, On The Road presents both sides of Post-War America – the era’s romanticism and also the Beat Generation’s destiny to fail as a cultural ethos.
Fans will be proud of the cinematography, scoring, acting and flittering narrative that cuts across America with exhaustive indifference. Travel and nomadic wandering is a way of life, not a six month break.
You either have it in your blood or you see a different film. Kerouac, Ginsberg and Neal Cassady (the true heroes) realised this before On The Road became the manifesto it was set to be.
On The Road is better reviewed not as a film, but more a way of life captured on screen. This is undeniably achieved in a clear, enthralling manner.
Infectious, wind-in-your-hair indifference to the world’s problems is the message here. When the road calls you it’s impossible to ignore. As Moriarty shows, boredom is the biggest devil here and while his end is lonesome sadness, like all those who pushed the counterculture existence, it’s more about the journey and the thrill that comes with it than the destination.
Dig it, from start to finish.
Merely recommending you see The Imposter isn’t enough praise.
There are so many ways The Imposter’s director, Bart Layton, could have approached the true (it definitely is) story. However, by setting it in the mould of a thriller drama you end up forgetting you’re watching actual real people recounting historical life events.
Obviously the source material’s peculiarity, surrealism and downright ludicrous qualities means it’s not difficult to get wrapped up in everything as we’re led deeper down the rabbit hole. In fact, The Imposter is so unbelievable that you’ll end up questioning whether it’s all one big joke or a social experiment like ‘is-it-real’ social media drama-mentary, Catfish.
To summarise and to avoid spoilers, Layton’s filmmaking recounts the story of tragic missing child, Nicholas Barclay, in San Antonio, Texas. Three years later he’s supposedly resurfaced in Spain. Except he hasn’t. The long-lost son is in fact a French adult who ends up convincing the Spanish authorities, boy’s family and ultimately, the FBI, he is Nicholas.
It is, of course, utterly crazy and you’ll often question how so many people could be duped by a 23 year old posing as a 16 year old who looks nothing like his intended subject.
Obviously losing a child is arguably the most tragic thing to happen to a family, but as fake-Nicholas is interviewed, it isn’t that surprising considering the grief involved that he got so far. It’s also delightful to see his motives and recounting of his journey, even if a bit sinister.
What follows is a winding adventure from every perspective, interjected with subtle reproduction that leaves you guessing who’s telling the truth thanks to a constant deluge of curve balls. Just when you think you’ve cracked the mystery, something new comes up and leaves you guessing all over again.
To go into any more detail will ruin the documentary’s power; it’s better to just see it. Ultimately it reminds me of, and this is an odd comparison, Inside Job – the credit crunch exposé (another fantastic documentary). It’s like witnessing a car crash in slow motion.
Utterly essential cinema.
As someone’s who rediscovered a love for reading, Detachment enters my life at an interesting point. Set in a vile school where crumbling standards leave an extremely sour taste, this isn’t a film that ends happily like other teacher-helps-troubled-children films. It’s a depressingly stark look at what parental detachment, teacher indifference and modern culture can do to the innocence of children as well as to those entrusted to lead kids to adulthood.
It paints an extremely dark picture, but one that arguably doesn’t surprise. I’ve long lamented the damage a solo diet of reality TV, screen communication and fame-chasing can do to people. I’m not calling for a return to 1950s style insulation or paper-stuck existence, but something is currently very broken in the western world.
Detachment’s job is to make us feel responsible, even if our own children have been raised to good standards. If you’ve never supported others, you join the risk that we could all end up spiralling towards the film’s broken vision. In fact, we are (as demonstrated by Waiting For Superman).
Nobody’s perfect and fighting daily pain is part of life, but indifference to others, especially children, is perhaps one of the biggest threats to our future coexistence.
Being someone who travels to work in London it’s deceptively easy to ignore everyone else. Earlier this year I decided I wouldn’t moan about rude people or join the masses. Even if no-one else changes, I will. People might be so self absorbed that they don’t even notice my politeness and goodwill, but at least I know I’m acting human and avoiding detachment. Hopefully it rubs off, but I can die a happy many knowing I’ve done my bit.
The film echoes many of the arguments raised in A Road Less Travelled, a book I read in Madrid which looks at psychology, raising children, spiritual growth and how to truly love yourself / others.
In life your responsibility is to take responsibility of yourself. Everyone wants to blame someone else.
“It’s the government’s fault, it’s hers, his, theirs, the media, the papers, leftist government, right totalitarianism.”
This culture is a cycle of missed opportunity and in Detachment you should hopefully come away with one lesson. No matter how bad life is there is someone worse and turning your back on them should never be acceptable. True courage is fighting for someone else, even if they throw everything back at you.
Detachment is a typical Adrien Brody showcase with some strong supporting talent. While some reviews have lamented its mixed presentation (here’s looking at you Empire), they’ve missed the point. No matter how self indulgent it might seen, this is messaged-based film making at its finest. Watch it.
There are two things I need to rectify now I’ve finished watching Cosmopolis.
- Robert Pattinson, despite my original apprehensions when the film was announced, was pretty damn good
- It’s a screen adaptation of Cosmopolis
Point one doesn’t need any more explanation and while Pattinson occasionally backtracks to moody Twilight vampire, he gets Packer pretty much as I imagined him.
Number two is imperative for people’s understanding of the film. If you don’t know this fact and the trailer has a mountain of mis-selling to answer for, it’s a film that follows a self destructive multibillionaire who trudges across NYC in a limo akin to the Starship Enterprise while sleeping with women and throwing away his fortune betting against an ever rising Chinese currency.
DeLillo’s book, of which this is based upon, is a postmodern commentary on the hyper real, technological capitalism, existentialist theory and everything else between. This, in both novel and Cronenberg’s adaptation, is delivered via a series of one-on-one encounters focused on human dialogue.
Where Do The Limos Go
The book literally has no action. It’s a book about postmodernist futurism and a bucketload of other tropes. It’s also a grand example of what’s possible with language, something that thankfully translates to screen. Its narrative is a fragmented mess, a direct intention by DeLillo to make a statement on our inability to keep pace with global markets and economies that never sleep.
In fact despite being written in the wake of 9/11, Cosmopolis has never been so relevant as European debt spirals out of control and anarchy slowly descends.
It’s filmmaking but not a film. If you’re not a philosophical person, 99% of the film will be wasted on you. It’s for those who look beyond films for entertainment. It moves at a snail’s pace and is one of the most essential non-essential films of the year.
Having studied DeLillo extensively at University, I’m familiar with what’s being presented. The 25% of people that walked out were lied to the film’s marketing. This is a pseudo documentary that’s not mockumentary.
Cosmopolis is the world we live in whether we like it or not. Reality is harsh and boring, and that’s where the film succeeds. The rat rises.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. 21 Jump Street – having never watched the original TV series I can’t comment on how the 2012 feature handles its legacy. I don’t even know if it’s a reboot, remake, re-release or re-imagining. All I do know is that it’s a very funny film.
Recently Jonah Hill’s managed to carve himself into a specific set of humour that’s difficult to classify. Having seen him in offbeat Cyrus and shaky The Sitter, you don’t really know what to expect from him; He’s either wildly sarcastic, hyperventilating or dishing out moral destroying smut.
21 Jump Street is a combination of all these things. A lewd, ludicrous comedy for Generation Facebook. Deliciously self-aware in places, it continually shakes free from the weight of expectation. Whether its buddy movie tropes, actioner-cliches or modern technology comment – it’s simultaneously embraced and thrown away. It’s both smart comedy and hedonistic animal behaviour.
But it’s the performance from Channing Tatum that surprises the most. Discarded by many, including myself, as a chick-flick pinup devoid of any acting talent, he manages to blow the audience away with a humanistic, hilarious parody of himself, his character, the source material and the destructive force of typecasting.
Hill’s expectantly on form, but Tatum is as comfortable as his counterpart at ripping up the rule book in the name of amusement. Several strong supporting performances help round off a comedy as funny as any Apatow churn.
The last comedy to cement itself as strongly as 21 Jump Street was Brand and again, Hill’s, Get Him To The Greek; another expectation-shatterer. Prior to that, Pineapple Express – Franco’s stoner-fest or Hill’s debut, Superbad, were on the money.
Dipping for a mere 10 minutes, 21 Jump Street is everything it promised to be, but more. If the trailer amused you, it’s definitely worth seeing.