I will start off by saying I feel slightly under qualified to write about Capote. I haven’t watched or read any of his work, indeed I haven’t even read ‘In Cold Blood’ which the writing of is the focus of this film. So, despite that semi embarrassing fact let me tell you about Capote and why Bennett Miller direction of this film shows he is star and allows me to praise one of the greatest actors of his or indeed of any generation Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Capote was based on the book by Gerald Clarke and adapted by Dan Futterman for the screen. As mentioned above it chronicles Truman Capote’s investigation in to the murder of the Clutter family by Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard “Dick” Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) this investigation eventually lead to the publication of one of the most famous novels in American history ‘In Cold Blood’. This film though is anything but a dry investigation into the writing of a famous book. It follows the emotional turmoil of Capote who was nearly broken by the writing of the novel and became a funtcition alcoholic. Who couldn’t even take joy in the success of his close friend ‘Harper Lee’ (Catherine Keener) when she found success with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (one of my favourite films of all time, again embarrassingly haven’t read the book). Capote while writing the article which eventually became In Cold Blood became increasingly attached to one of the accused Perry Smith. Finding him interesting, well spoken, remorseful and calm. Capote struggled to put this man together with the one who had in all likelihood brutally murder four people. Capote went as far as to organise a proper Lawyer to defend Perry Smith, but even when he is doing this seemingly noble action there is a hint of selfishness in everything he does. Because even then he may only be keeping Smith from his execution to make sure he got the whole story out of Smith and not because he ever believed he was innocent.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman deservedly one the Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote. Everything about his performance is extraordinary but particularly his voice. Hoffman’s voice, below I have left two clips from Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderful movie ‘The Master’ which Hoffman is equally amazing in and then directly below his voice in Capote maybe because I know nothing about acting or voice control, but it is unbelievable to me that both voices come from the same person.
It is possible I would say to become irritated by Capote’s voice however I think after about ten minutes you forget all about it and you simple just marvel at the masterclass of acting by the much-missed Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Capote was the first fiction feature length film by Bennett Miller who was nominated for an Oscar for his work but ultimately beaten to the prize by Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. Miller has since directed Moneyball and Foxcatcher both of which I would highly recommend. All three of his films I think are incredible intense, I think most of this intensity comes from the silence in his films. The lack of music where almost every other director would have a score is intense and makes his films seem far more real. Out of the five movies he has directed so far two have been documentaries and three have been inspired or a strong bases in reality. So the lack of music in most of his films really works, it will be interesting to see what he does with ‘A Christmas Carol’ which he has been slated on to direct, his first entirely fictional film. Miller directs Capote with the slightest of touches, I don’t think anyone ever says to Capote that he has a drinking problem but you never see him without a drink particularly as the film moves along and his steady mental decline seems to coincide with the increased alcohol consumption. This technique of show don’t tell is something most directors can learn from, even good directors can fall into this trap (I am looking at you Ron Howard). Any of the many encounters between Capote and Smith are worth the price of admission alone, both Hoffman and Collins Jr. are electrifying when they are on screen together and if it was just those two shooting the breeze for two hours I am sure the movie would have flown by. Capote is an intense film but worth your time.
Thank you anyone who has bothered to read this, feel free to get in touch
Days of Heaven
Malick in To the wonder, The Tree of life and The New World has become a partial parody of himself. The wistful dialogue of characters talking to God. The endless shots of nature. The voice over of the main characters narrating their life. However, if there is a film where all of these Malickism works. It is Days of Heaven.
If you ever want to see the power of visual cinema look no further than Days of Heaven. This is Terrence Malick at the top of his game, he uses breathtaking cinematography by Néstor Almendros shot almost exclusively during golden hour. To tell a story of love, lust, greed and heart break. I haven’t done this because I would miss out on Ennio Morricone beautifully haunting score as well Malick’s famed voice overs. But I am sure I could watch Days of Heaven without any sound and still understand perfectly what is going on throughout. The difference between the Scorsese and Malick’s of this world compared to the vast majority of directors is they are always thinking of the visuals of the film and how a image can tell a story. It is actually I think one of the things Malick has partially forgotten how to do, looking at most of his new films. The visual narrative of ‘To the wonder’ is far less clear even if the imagery by the great Emmanuel Lubezki is still just as amazing.
It is a story set in 1916, it tells the story of Bill (Richard Gere) and Abby (Brooke Adams), who are lovers (pretending to be brother and sister to avoid suspicion of out of marriage relationship) who travel to the Texas Panhandle to harvest crops for a wealthy farmer. Bill encourages Abby to claim the fortune of the dying farmer by tricking him into a false marriage. The sense of doom around this whole film is palpable, you are never quite sure where it is going. But you know things aren’t going to end well one way or the other. Most of the principal story telling for this film is told through the eyes of Linda (Linda Manz), who plays Bill’s actually sister (not a pretend one this time). She is a young girl and looks at the world through a childlike perspective which considering the incredible jaded perspective of the adults in the film i.e. making someone fall in love with you to take their money. A more innocent view of the world is the perfect antidote for these horrible people you have to spend time with.
The music from Days of Heaven is composed by Ennio Morricone who is famed the world over for his amazing ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ score as well as been the most recent academy award winner for best original score for Tarantino’s Hateful Eight. If you listen to the song above it sounds like it could have come from Harry Potter it has a real sense of magic and mystery to it. Morricone was rightfully nominated for an Oscar his work on Days of Heaven. The cinematographer Néstor Almendros did win an Oscar for his work and just looking at images such as the one below it is easy to tell why.
Days of Heaven barely made its money back on its box office release and it only had a already limited budget of $3,000,000. But is now considering a cinematic classic. Often appearing in the lists of greatest American movies ever made. It is a real master piece made by one of the most unique voices in cinema and more than worthy of your attention and time.
Trailers and links
Another potential strange movie for me to write about considering it won several awards and made a huge amount of money at the box office. In the J.J. Abrams pantheon of billion-dollar franchise this is a much smaller and quainter movie than Star Wars or Star Trek and it is equally as good and worthy of praise.
Critics of Super 8 will tell you it is just a more expensive yet seemingly cheaper version of Spielberg’s masterpiece E.T. and the similarities between the two are striking. Which is probably to be expected with Spielberg’s involvement in both projects and Mr Abrams been a bit of a disciple of Spielberg. They are both about a young boy who has lost a parent and are still reeling from the effects. They both have an alien come down to earth and forever change their life. They both have lens flares for days and can’t forgot about the faceless government who are up to no good and trying to ruin everything. So far so the same. However, Super 8 is fare more than just a knock off of E.T. it is really visual interesting film (yes lens flare and all). Most of the film appears to take part in an almost hitting storm all the time. See poster above which gives the film a really dark aesthetic look, which goes well with the dark theme of the overall story. The cinematographer for Super 8 was Larry Fong and despite the over use of lens flare on the film (might be more of a J.J. thing) he deserves huge credit for his work on the film. One area though which E.T. definitely wins as the more superior film is the sound track Michael Giacchino score for Super 8 is perfectly nice. But it doesn’t have the same breathtaking qualities as some of his other scores e.g. Up and Inside Out and it definitely doesn’t have the same excitement and mystery to it that John William’s beautiful E.T. sound track had.
The film stars Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb as the lost young man who makes films with his best friend Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) on, you guested it a Super 8 camera. While out filming with their other friends and the girl the both like Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) in a star making performance. They witness a train been hit by a car and all sort of things start to happen from there. Elle Fanning may have come out with a star making performance in Super 8. But the real star of everything he is in is Kyle Chandler, one of the most talented and criminally underrated actors of a generation. He plays Deputy Jackson Lamb (Joe’s Dad) and it is his real struggle to come to terms with how to be a father to Joe while also grieving for the recent loss of his wife that is at the heart of the film. Super 8, much like E.T. initially might look like a Sci-fi action romp. They are both really about coming to terms with the losses in your life. All the characters in this film have lost something and by the end of the film they all may not have found what they were looking for. But they have come to terms with the new equilibrium. This is only achieved in film through masterful storytelling, people find it easy to criticise J.J. Abrams for been a Spielberg acolyte. But I think those that think that are selling J.J. Abrams short he is a terrific director in his own right and has yet to make a bad movie (yes I have seen Star Trek: Into Darkness).
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As with any trailer produced by J.J. Abrams, it gets you excited about the film while actually revealing almost nothing. J.J. Abrams and the whole team at Bad Robot need to show every other production company how to make trailers.
Not strictly related but, it is great and well worth your time.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, actually was noticeable laking in its lens flare compared to most J.J. Abrams works and that is probably a good thing.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Let’s face it, it was only a matter of time before I did a Hayao Miyazaki film so I might as well get it out of the way. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind actually came out in 1984 so pre studio Ghibli, which was set up a year later. But all the Ghibli elements many of us have come to love are still there probably due in no small part to both the founders of Ghibli all been involved i.e. Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki.
The story is set in the for mentioned Valley of the Wind which is surrounding not only by a poisonous forest full deadly animals, but between two warring nations both of whom are vastly militarily superior to the Valley of the Wind. The story follows Princess Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind as she tries to help provide for the land and stop her country been torn apart by the two waring nations.
Why watch it
First of all like Coraline (Selick, 2009) (which I have previously written about) this film is an inspiration for young girls around the world. Nausicaä is strong both physically and mentally, she is resourceful smart and caring. But she is also a three-dimensional person who struggles with the enormity of the situation as well. So many characters in movies are so one dimensional that they are impossible to ever become. Nausicaä is someone everyone in the world can become.
There is also a very, very strong political message. If you are those few people on earth who don’t believe that climate change is happening, then you might get angry at this film. Because it is very strongly point out that what we are doing as humans is destroying the world, it is also very anti-war and is all about conciliation.
But if you don’t look for any of the political messages at all then you are left with a wonderful movie. A action movie with a hint of a love story. It is absolutely beautiful to look at, the animation on this film is simply outstanding. The Ohm particularly are amazing to look at.
Why I am writing about it
Generally I have found a lot of people are against the idea of watching anime movies for some reasons I can’t quite understanding because these same people usually don’t mind watching a Pixar movie i.e. CG, but no anime. Unless you are a Ghibli fan chances are you haven’t watched Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Because generally the causal fans have watched Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001), Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997) and My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988). All of which are great films don’t get me wrong, but they are missing out on some major classics such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and if I can get one more person to see how great this movie is, it will be worth it.
The other issue people generally have with foreign language movies is the fact that don’t want to read subtitles it is distracting or they just can’t be bothered. Well as with all Ghibli movies it has both a subbed and dubbed version, I have seen both and they are both good so no worries and no excuses.
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Citations, Quotes & Annotations
I went to this film having not seen any of Directors Denis Villeneuve previous work. But I had heard good things about Prisoners and Sicario, but I was a massive fans of both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. So I had fairly high expectations for this film. Sicario not just met those expectations they were well surpassed. Sicario pulls you in with its unrelenting tension and never lets go.
The Plot Explanation Bit
Sicario follows Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) on a mission to eradicate a drug cartel responsible for a bomb that had killed members of her team. For this mission she is teamed up with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and Matt Graver Josh Brolin, neither of whom she trusts. This I would say is the real heart of the story, them trusting her the only woman in a all male land and her trusting them. Because it definitely looks like something shady is going on. As always I believe the less you know about a films plot before hand the better, so that is all you are getting.
What Makes This Film So Great?
One of the first things you will notice when you watch is just how stunning the photography is on this film and that has to do with the great Roger Deakins. Who most just hate Emmanuel Lubezki for winning the last three Oscars in a row for Cinematography. While Deakins one of the greatest Cinematographers of all time has been nominated thirteen times now but each time falling short of cracking that nut. Not that the Oscars are the be all and end all. The visuals of Sicario are simply breathtaking and worth the price of admission on their own. While we are talking Oscar snubs lets talk about Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro (+ actually most of the cast) all of whom were amazing in this film. They are so intense so committed it is a joy to watch. So many films you watch particularly comedies I tend to find, where you can see actors just saying the lines and picking up the pay check not so with Sicario. Full blooded, fully committed performance all round. That commitment is usually a sign of great direction. I think Denis Villeneuve did a masterful job building the tension of this film. Making you doubt everyone and everything you see. A true rising star and I was sceptical about Blade Runner 2049 before. Now I know Villeneuve and Deakins are involved I feel a lot more relaxed about this whole situation. Lastly but certainly not least is Jóhann Jóhannsson whose brilliant score (maybe to on the nose for some) brilliant builds tension from quietness to crash over whelming sound, it is a brilliant piece of orchestral writing.
Now some of you might be wondering why I am writing about Sicario. After all it was nominated for three Oscars Best Achievement in Sound Editing; Alan Robert Murray, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score; Jóhann Jóhannsson, Best Achievement in Cinematography; Roger Deakins and more than doubled its budget on box office return. The reason I am writing about it is, I barely know anyone who has seen it and first of all I want to talk to other people about Sicario. Second of all this is a film that deserves to be scene unlike half the crap people sit through.
This is probably the first proper cult classic I have wrote about. It is very surprising I am writing about this Richard Kelly film. After been released on October 26th 2001 in the US it bombed fairly spectacularly at the box office and only after a full worldwide release barely scraped its budget back of $4,500,000. If you sold this film today you could have, Seth Rogen, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal on the poster and people would definitely go and see that movie. But this was Seth Rogen’s first feature film, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal although not their first feature film it was one of their earlier works and people definitely weren’t searching them out at this time. Along with the unfortunate release date been so close to the 9/11 this appeared to be a film which disappears from people memory very quickly. However, fate was on Donnie Darko’s side, both Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal turned into major stars and out shining both of them was Seth Rogen. Also the cover of the song ‘Mad World’ (composer Michael Andrews and singer Gary Jules) which features in the film reached number one in the charts in both the UK and Portugal. This lead people to look up where this song originated and lead them back to Donnie Darko. So now you know how Donnie Darko became a cult classic, let me tell you why it is a great cult classic. Unlike most cult classics.
Spoiler free plot bit
Donnie Darko stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the eponymous hero of the tale. He is a very troubled young man on a cocktail of drugs to try and keep him calm. However, when he meets a human sized rabbit called Frank (James Duval) who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds, things in Donnie’s life start to unravel quickly. He manages to escape been crushed to death by a mysterious Jet turbine which falls through the house and straight through his bedroom because he was out sleep walking… Things only continue to get stranger from there as he quickly starts seeing strange funnel shaped things coming out of people’s body, what these things are is a mystery. That is pretty much all you need to know for the setup of the movie, watch the movie and draw your own conclusions about what you think is going on.
Why it is great bit
The performance by all the cast in this movie is sensational. You can really see the star quality shining out of all of them and any reason to watch a Patrick Swayze picture is always a good thing. One of things that makes this film so beautiful is the lateral tracking shot and the beautiful editing between the scenes. See video below for details on the power of the Lateral tracking shot. Once you have watched the film go back and look at the scene where ‘Mad World’ is playing and you will notice that really the shots don’t have a tremendous amount to do with each other. It is just edited and put together with the perfect sound to make you think they seem relevant to each other. This is masterful editing by Sam Bauer and Eric Strand.
Another reason I think it has become such a cult classic, is that it is a movie you can talk to your friends about after you have watched it and try and figure out what the hell is going on (see link below of Terry Gilliam on Schindler’s List). Following Mr Gilliam’s lead I will bring up 2001 A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968). One of the reasons people love that film is what does any of it mean you can debate for days and probably come no closer to the truth if there is a truth. A similar sort of thing could be said for Donnie Darko. Its ending (again no spoilers) seem to set up the fact that all of what you have been watching might have been a dream a vision a alternate reality. But then that ask so many questions because the realities seem to have had some sort of interaction with each other. The point is that you need to watch this with a friend and try and work out what is going on and once you have worked it out let me know.
Thanks for reading come back next week.
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Lucky Number Slevin
Here is a brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and brilliantly directed movie. With huge star names involved, which barely anyone has seen. Its worldwide box office was $56,308,881 on a budget of $27,000,000, so not terrible numbers but not great. Particularly when you consider the film had such star power Josh Hartnett at the peak of his popularity post ‘Pearl Habour’ (Bay, 2001) and ‘Black Hawk Down’ (Scott, 2001). Lucy Liu who had been in the hugely successful Charlie’s Angels (McG, 2000) and both Kill Bills (Tarantino, 2003). It also starred Morgan Freeman one of the most consistent box office performers in the world for over 30 years as was Bruce Willis and Sir Ben Kingsley add to the mix the extraordinarily talented Stanley Tucci and this film should have been huge. But it wasn’t. So now it is time to give ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ (McGuigan, 2006) the praise it deserves.
The film starts with Bruce Willis explaining to a stranger what a ‘Kansas City Shuffle’ is (see movie for full explanation), this is then followed closely by a whole series of people been assassinated you don’t know who is been killed or who is doing the killing. After this a man claiming to be Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) turns up in New York to see his friend Nick Fisher and is immediately mugged. He arrives at Nick Fisher house (or his house) and meets Lindsey (Lucy Liu). After she leaves two hired goons turn up, this is where all the fun really starts. As Nick Fisher owes a lot of money to both The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley) neither of whom get a long. Things get more complicated from there, but this is a good jumping off point.
One of the reasons I love this film is how clever it is, so many films now days spoon feed you the plot. To the point where most dialogue in films are just exposition between the characters. Here is a mainstream film which treats its audience like grown ups and expects them to follow along. It is not some ridiculous complicated or absurd film though don’t worry. What I mean is that it rewards close viewing and indeed repeat viewing, all throughout the film there are clues about what is going to happen later in the film. But they are not so obvious that if you are just watching casually you will get it. I think this is the true of almost all the best movies e.g. Memento (Nolan, 2000), Sixth Sense (Shyamalan, 1999).
I haven’t even mention how funny it is yet take a look at this non-spoilertastic clip. This isn’t even one of the better scenes in the movie and it still great.
Lucky Number Slevin brilliant balance humour, character development and plot due in large part to the wonderful writing of Jason Smilovic and the strange yet perfect score by J. Ralph only the second score he ever wrote. If you are a fan of In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008) or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, 2005) this movie will be right up your street and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Please get back to me with any comments or film recommendations. See you guys in about a week.
Citations, Quotes & Annotations
The Kings of Summer
Now I will be upfront about this I am a complete sucker for coming of age movies and tend to like them more than other people, however ‘The Kings of Summer’ (Vogt-Roberts, 2013) is one of the best ones I have ever seen and deserves it place along side ‘Stand by Me’ (Reiner, 1986) in the pantheon of great coming of age movies and more than that great movies generally.
‘The Kings of Summer’ principal character is Joe played brilliantly by Nick Robinson (Not the BBC’s political correspondent). He is young man still dealing with the loss of his mother and not very much not getting on with his father Frank played by the always funny Nicker Offerman. This is the heart of the story can Joe reconnect with his father, just like the story of ‘Stand by Me’ is actually about Gordie (Wil Wheaton) coming to terms with his brother death. What is important about both these stories is the plot is not principal about either of these things. It is just an underlying message. It is this added emotional toll which makes both of these films so great.
But along with the emotional toll of the film, it is important for me to say that the ‘The Kings of Summer’ is undoubtedly one of the funniest films you will see. Here is one of the many great quotes: “Joe: Vicki’s making eyes at you man. Go talk to her. She’s so into it. Biaggio: There’s no point in me talking to her anyways. Joe: Why not? Biaggio: Joe, I’m gay. Joe: Are you sure? Biaggio: Yes, my lungs fill up every time the seasons change. Joe: That’s not being gay, Biaggio. Biaggio: What? Joe: Pretty sure that’s Cystic Fibrosis. Biaggio: Oh”. The Script writing by Chris Galletta is full of these brilliant moments of wit. Anything the character of Biaggio (Moises Arias) is just brilliantly funny. He delivers his lines so perfectly. He is such a strange character that he easily could have become very hate able but Moises Arias treads the line brilliantly and makes Biaggio just about a character you can believe in.
The director of this film Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is currently in the process of the post-production on ‘Kong: Skull Island’ (Vogt-Roberts, 2017). The leap from ‘The Kings of Summer’ a coming of age comedy, to what is presumably going to be a much darker action movies is a large leap. But based on how well Jordan Vogt-Roberts handled ‘The Kings of Summer’ it should be no issue for the talented director. ‘The Kings of Summer’ is a ultra feel good movie, brilliantly written, acted, shot and directed. We are starting to going into Autumn now but see the summer out in style along with the ‘Kings’.
Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you.
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Citations, Quotes & Annotations
With the recent release of ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (Knight, 2016), I thought I would take this opportunity to praise and remind everyone of Laika studios brilliant 2009 feature ‘Coraline’ (Selick, 2009). Based off of the Neil Gaiman children’s book of the same name. Laika along with Aardman are the two leading production companies in stop motion animation. Their films are always beautiful to look at and shot with cinematic quality you might not expect from a stop motion animation.
As always I will only talk about the first third ish of the movie, so no spoilers ahead. The film starts with Coraline (Dakota Fanning) moving into the ‘Pink Palace Apartments’, as seen above. When she moves to a brand new place she is lonely, isolated and bored. But Coraline a very smart and tenacious young girl quickly gets about exploring and meeting all her neighbours who are an assortment of lively characters and a strange black cat. Soon in her exploring Coraline discover a entrance to another world. A world seemingly exactly the same as her but better. The only difference is, in this world. The other world. Everyone has black buttons instead of eyes. Apart from this creepy detail. This world has everything you could want attentive caring parents’ lovely food, interesting neighbours. Seemingly the perfect place to go if you are bored of the real world you currently live in. But there is an underlining menace to the ‘other’ world.
One of the things I love about Coraline and other movies like it such as ‘Spirited Away’ (Miyazaki, 2001) and indeed most Ghibli films. Is the incredible strong and brave young female protagonists? I feel a lot of the films which are designed for women, such as the Nicholas Sparks books/movies tend to give the worst ideals for women. Occasionally they have some strong female characters but generally all they do is pine after someone they love and their life is never truly fulfilled until they find someone to love them. Coraline you feel though would live quite happily the rest of her life full independent. That I believe is the sort of message we should teach everyone. Not just kids. People are much smarter, braver than they think. Coraline a young girl proves that is not your size or age that matters it is about been strong when you need to be and always been curious. Saying all this there is actually a male protagonist in the film who is not in the book, he is called Wyborne ‘Wybie’ Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.). The reason he is in the film is because, in films without Voice Over (VO) there is no way of knowing clearly what a character is thinking, this gives Coraline someone to talk and therefore don’t constant VO. Despite his addition it is still very much Coraline’s story and she does face the vast majority of the danger by herself.
Another thing I ought to mention is Coraline although is menacing and maybe scary for young ones, it is also very funny. With particularly good turns from the always funny Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. This film will make you laugh, cry, hide behind the sofa (I maybe using all the movie stereotypes right now). It is absolutely worth a watch and at 100 minute run time it won’t take up too much of your day either.
I leave the trailer below in case you want to check it out.
I thoroughly recommend this movie, particularly if you have young daughter. However, I am a 21 year male myself without a daughter or any children indeed and I still love it so it is good for anyone.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to get in touch.
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The reason I am writing about this film, is to first bring it to the attention to those who might not have had the fortune to watch that film as of yet. Secondly because this film fairing less than well at the box office of $5.438 million USD on a budget of $5.00 million USD. Is a massive shame for a film; as high quality of Heavenly Creature not to be remember and praised for been the stunning piece of work that it is.
Before Peter Jackson was known the world over for his spectacular Lord of the Rings series. He was making amazing films, such as his 1994 classic Heavenly Creatures (Jackson, 1994). Based off of a true life story of Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet, in her debut feature film). Now my first recommendation is that you watch the movie before you search these names, because although the film is still a masterpiece knowing what will happen all films are best when you don’t know what is coming. In this article I will try my best to talk around the event.
The film opens with (See clip below) the two girls running away from something covered in blood in shear terror, intercut with the same girls shot in mono chrome running happily towards there mother. The camera switching point of view from several times in the opening minute in what is quite a disorienting way. This sort of disorientating perfectly encapsulates what the film makes you feel, but in entirely intended and well executed way. You are dropped into the crazy world these girls live in and you aren’t let out until the credits roll.
The story is told from Pauline Parker’s perspective she is a young lonely bored girl who suffered from chronic leg pain and as such prohibited from doing much exercise. Her life was changed when Juliet Hulme moves to the same school as her, Juliet originally from the UK, by way of South Africa and the Caribbean, which she had moved to in the hope it would help her recover from TB. Juliet is a bright vibrant, clever girl and she immediately impresses Pauline who can’t seem to believe her luck that Juliet is taking an interest in her. They immediately strike up an intense friendship and quickly start falling into each others worlds. Both been writers they start writing together about a different world. This world slowly but surely starts to consuming their everyday lives more and more until the point were neither girls knew what is reality and what is fiction anymore.
Now you know the set up you are wondering why is this film worth my attention. Well it is the fourth film by Peter Jackson and if like me you found ‘The Hobbit’ (Jackson, 2012) series as disappointing as I did you will want to vanquish those memories and remember why Peter Jackson is one of the greatest directors of the modern age. In this film he draws you into the world of the two girls, like the girls you are no longer sure what is reality. This is one of the hardest things to do mixing both reality and fantasy only the best films pull this off such as Pan’s Labyrinth (Warner Bros. and Toro, 2006). It is the blending of these two worlds which makes these film so great so many films wouldn’t have been able to mix this reality and fantasy and if that doesn’t happen you as the viewer don’t know them believe the characters seemingly crazy action which is the culmination at the end of the movie.
An interesting side note to this story is that the crime writer Anne Perry, is actually Juliet Hulme “The Times selected her as one of the 20th Century’s “100 Masters of Crime”. In 2015 she was awarded the Premio de Honor Aragón Negro.”(International bestselling historical novelist, no date). When you watch the film the realisation that this woman is now a crime writer you wonder whether the fantasy and reality world is once again in a very scary way merging for Juliet Hulme.
Please watch the film let me know what you thought and if you have any movie you feel deserves recognition let me know could be the next movie I write about.
Interesting websites for more on the real life events:
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Why Unbreakable is the superhero movie you been waiting for.
Unbreakable, (Shyamalan, 2000) this is a strange one. I contended it is the second best super hero movie ever made after ‘The Dark Knight'(Nolan, 2008) and just a great movie period. Yet it is criminally underrated few people talk about it in the pantheons of great movies and when people talk Shyamalan they usually talk about the ‘The Sixth Sense’ and how he hasn’t made a great movie since then. Let’s be 100% clear. He has and it was called Unbreakable
It was released a year after Shyamalan huge successful ‘The Sixth Sense'(Shyamalan, 1999) which made $672,806,292 Worldwide (2016, 1990) ‘The Sixth Sense’ is now a cultural touch stone. The twist ending (don’t worry I won’t be spoiling) remains iconic around the world today.Shyamalan followed ‘The sixth sense’ up with the brilliant and I would argue superior ‘Unbreakable’. From a purely money point of view ‘Unbreakable’ made $249,511,339 Worldwide (Touchstone, 2000) almost a third less than ‘The Sixth sense’. Which I just don’t understand they both start Bruce Willis they both have brilliant twist endings and have amazing original score by James Newton Howard.
People tend to say Spiderman (Raimi, 2002) was the start of the recent superhero fad we are still living through. I say those people haven’t seen or didn’t realize ‘Unbreakable’ is a superhero movie. It is a film that is very little on super and all about the hero. It doesn’t have anyone in really tight spandex, doesn’t have huge explosions or CGI, doesn’t have marvels quick witted characters and is entirely free of any ‘Stan Lee’ cameos. Though it does have a cameo from Shyamalan himself which frankly actually I could have done without. So it doesn’t have any of the usual superhero troupes in it. Yet it is all the better for not having them. It is a film, for adults. Not a film which is for teenagers/ kids which throws in a slightly old reference only the adults get, it is a proper grown up film.
If it isn’t for kids, it is for everyone else. The film is accessible to everyone because it is about humans. All the characters in the story are lost ‘David Dunn’ (Bruce Willis) is a security guard at the college football stadium where he used to be a star and is currently having marital problems with his wife ‘Audrey Dunn’ (Robin Wright). This has also made their son ‘Joseph Dunn'(Spencer Treat Clark) isolated, we don’t learn that much about him other than he gets into a fight and school and looks constantly sad. Outside of the family you have ‘Elijah Price’ (Samuel L Jackson) who has exceedingly brittle bones and has as of a consequence been unable to take part in my post actives that people take for granted in fear of suffering injuries. The performances from ‘Bruce Willis’ and ‘Samuel L Jackson’ are particularly stunning. Everyone in life has felt lost, should I take this job or that one, which university should I go to. Should I buy the semi-skimmed or full fat milk? Just like we have these issues so do these characters. That is what makes them feel far more real than any Marvel movie character.
I would love to hear your feedback on this article and feel free to suggested films which I could write about next.
Next film will be discussed next week.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv0WlHbBhdc Quentin Tarantino top 20 movies released between 1992 and 2009.
http://www.jasminjodry.com/unbreakable/ Cover Photo, all credits to this website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsSDFwKh2h0&list=PL392B08090DE07C75 James Newton Howard’s wonderful original score.