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Posts Tagged ‘Audition’

Never one to miss a chance to see a classic movie on the big screen, this year I have seen more than ever:

Pandora’s Box (1929) – Seminal Louise Brooks movie, the masterpiece of director G W Pabst.  Screened thanks to the BFI in what they call a “New 2K DCP of the 2009 restoration of Munich Film Museum’s definitive cut, with score by Peer Raben”.  Telling of the rise and fall of desirable and seductive but naive young dancer Lulu (Brooks).  It still stands up as a mesmerising film nearly 90 years on with simple modern storytelling, you soon forget you are watching a silent film and just appreciate it as a film.pandorasbox1

Some Like it Hot (1959) – Screened in a stunning 4K restoration as part of the BFI comedy genius season – Two down on their luck musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) witness the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.  They escape town disguised as women with an all female band bound for the Florida sun, where they intend to skip out on the band.  There is however a complication, Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).  If there is any such thing as a perfect movie, this is it.  Sixty years later the comedy is still relevant and hilarious.  The performances (including Marilyn Monroe’s) are outstanding, but its Billy Wilder’s sharp script and direction that shine through.  What has long been my favourite film plays even better on the big screen with an audience. Some Like it Hot

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – 50 years ago was year zero for the modern zombie movie.  Just about every zombie movie in the past half century draws influence from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  But how does it hold up as a film in its own right?  Shown in a 4K restoration, it was as good as ever, and looked better than ever.  Working as a visceral horror and a allegory of a nation tearing itself apart.  A perfect horror movie. Night of the Living Dead

Halloween (1978) – 40th Anniversary 4K restoration of John Carpenter’s slasher masterpiece.  I probably don’t need to give a plot synopsis, but will for those who are new to this classic: As a child, Michael Myers kills his teenage sister on Halloween night, fifteen years later he escapes and returns to his hometown.  Halloween didn’t invent the slasher movie, but it certainly revolutionised and popularised the genre making it a mainstay of horror throughout the 1980’s.  It has spawned multiple sequels (with another due later this month), a remake, and countless imitators, does it deserve all this?  Hell yes, it is a true horror masterpiece.  Modern audiences may find the deliberate pacing slow, they are wrong, not a second of the 91minute runtime is wasted.  Michael Myers is a blank cipher with little back-story and no discernible motive.  He is a classic movie monster, but one all the more frightening because unlike Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, or the Wolf-Man, he is just a man, he is a real world boogeyman.  The films emotion comes from Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, but the Steadicam mounted camera is as much a character as any of these people.  If you haven’t seen it, look it out now before seeing the latest sequel. Halloween 1978

The Fog (1980) – The second in a series of John Carpenter movies to receive a 4K restoration.  A small town celebrating its centenary is enveloped by a fog that brings with it a reckoning from the past.  A spooky almost old-fashioned horror that is relatively tame, but enjoyable none the less.  Notable of the first onscreen pairing of Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother Janet Leigh. The Fog

The Evil Dead (1981) – Five young friends unwittingly release and are possessed my daemons while on holiday in a cabin in the woods.  The effects show their budget, the acting isn’t always great and the editing is conspicuous.  None of this stops it being a stone cold classic.  The Evil Dead

Escape From New York (1981) – Another remastered John Carpenter classic.  Made in 1981 and set in the future, 1997 where Manhattan has been turned into a giant maximum-security prison.  Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is sent into the prison to rescue the president after Air Force One is hijacked.  What could have been a forgettable Sci-Fi B-movie is elevated to stone cold classic by the inclusion of the iconic Snake Plissken, and more importantly Kurt Russell’s portrayal of him.  Made in a cynical post-Vietnam war/Watergate American it is strangely and frighteningly relevant today.Escape From New York

Die Hard (1988) – Towards the end of the 1980’s Die Hard rewrote the book on action movies, how has it aged?  The simple answer is very well!  It is made with typical 80’s film stock that is a little grainy and muddy looking (not as bad as 70’s, but not as bright or crisp what came before or after), other than that it is very modern.  If you saw it for the first time many of the story beats may seem a little clichéd, it isn’t, this is the archetype that everything else copied.  A treat to see on the big screen. Die Hard

Audition (1999) – Horror thriller from the prolific director Takashi Miike.  A widower takes an offer from a friend to “audition” girls to find him a new wife.  I hadn’t seen this since watching it at the cinema on its original release, as great as I remember.  What I had forgotten, was how long it took for the horror to begin, and how quickly it became horrific. Audition

Battle Royale (2000) – Set in a near future, Japan to help suppress a problem of rising crime amongst teenagers, a class of students is randomly selected each year and sent to an island, where they are forced to fight to the death.  A modern classic that has been the benchmark for teenage dystopian movies for the past eighteen years.Battle Royale

Martyrs (2008) – Around ten years ago I watched Martyrs on DVD based on multiple recommendations. I understand it had a cinema release but certainly not at any of my local multiplexes (I didn’t visit independent cinemas often back then). My feeling at time was that I thought the film was excellent, but I didn’t want to see it again. Fast forward a decade and one of my local independent cinema’s, the Mockingbird in Birmingham advertised a 10 year anniversary screening. Never one to pass up the opportunity for seeing a classic on the big screen, how could I refuse!  On a second viewing the film is just as powerful and disturbing as before. Whereas first time around I was unsure of what to make of the ending, I now believe it is intentionally left open to interpretation. I have a stronger view on the meaning of the ending but would rather people drew their own conclusions. After all, the meaning is probably as influenced by what the viewer brings to it as what they see on the screen.Martyrs Lucie

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Avengers: Infinity is going to be the biggest movie of the year so there is no competition for the movie of the month.  Things aren’t that simple.  Here are the movies seen this month:

A Quiet Place – A family try to survive in dystopian near future by avoiding monsters who hunt by sound. Instead of the usual walls we see people hiding behind in other movies, the family live in a fortress of silence. What’s the point of walls and locked doors when the monsters can rip through them! Comprising of essentially just two acts, built on tension rather than horror. The slow build-up is perfectly paced to setup the excellent finalé. The ideas aren’t necessarily new or original, but they are used well; the simplest of building materials as Chekhov’s gun! The cast are all excellent from John Krasinski (who also directs and co writes – very much against type) and Emily Blunt to the kids who include Millicent Simmonds who we will be seeing later this month in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck. Keeping explanation and exposition to a minimum works in the movies favour to create a very satisfying horror thriller.A Quiet Place

Thoroughbreds – I went into this movie knowing virtually nothing about it. I hadn’t read a review or synopsis and hadn’t seen a trailer. I am really glad I saw it this way and for that reason I advise the same of anyone wishing to see it and will not give a synopsis myself. Billed as a drama/thriller, it is also darkly funny. Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke have proven to be two of the most exciting young actresses in their short careers to date. Here they are perfectly cast and give stunning performances. Utilising a small cast, mainly focussing on its two leads it’s no surprise that writer-director Cory Finley conceived it as a play. Shot with confidence and visual flair, it is amazingly Finley’s first movie in any capacity. Surly a film to divide opinion, I loved it.Thoroughbreds

Ghost Stories – Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman) works as a debunker of the supernatural. Things start to get a bit weird when he is asked by a fellow sceptic to investigate three cases he believes to be real. The structure makes it feel like the portmanteau horror’s that Hammer used to make, and like those movies it isn’t as satisfying as regular narrative. The overall tone is of quirky weirdness rather than horror. One of the three stories creates a real sense of dread, but the film is never scary, in fact a lot of the tension is undercut by comedy. Written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman who originally produced it as a stage play, I understand this is more successful than the film version.Ghost Stories

Death Wish – The 1974 Michael Winner/Charles Bronson movie has a poor reputation; although I haven’t seen the film for over 20 years, I remember it being good and think its reputation is based more on the increasingly poor sequels. Horror director Eli Roth’s remake moves the action from New York to Chicago; Bronson’s architect becomes Bruce Willis, trauma surgeon. The characters new profession is well used within the plot. The script by Joe Carnahan really isn’t bad, its derivative and predictable but it holds up as a narrative. Willis does a good job playing Bruce Willis and the action is understated and gritty. The film fails to say anything important or original about crime, justice or, vigilantism but as a disposable genre movie it works well.Death Wish

Beast – A troubled (they always are in a film like this) young woman lives with her overpowering mother, and farther who appears to be suffering from dementia. In the shadow of the perfect life of her sister and out of step with the world, until she meets an equally troubled young man. As the “us against the world” romance blossoms the subplot of a murder mystery comes to the fore making the viewer wonder who the beast of the title actually is. First time director Michael Pearce fills the movie with metaphor, and keeps just enough mystery and ambiguity to keep the story compelling. The cast are all excellent from the young leads to the more recognisable supporting players. The setting, the Channel Island of Jersey is used to full effect creating an environment that is sometimes inviting, at others hostile, the skill that the changes are traversed belies the directors lack of experience.Beast - Still 1

Funny Cow – Told with a very effective nonlinear narrative, Maxine Peake plays a female stand up comedian in 70/80’s Northern England. Unnamed throughout the film, Peake’s character is credited as Funny Cow, a honour placed upon her by a fellow comedian. Don’t be fooled by the synopsis or title, this is far from a comedy. Dealing with abusive fathers and husbands, depression and alcoholism it is a far darker film than you would ever expect. It is however, filed with fantastic performances, particularly from Maxine Peake. There are also enough moments of brevity and levity to keep the viewer engaged. A hard film to love but a compelling one you can’t turn away from.Funny Cow

Every Day – Don’t be put off by the lukewarm reviews, there is more going on here than many are giving it credit for. A teenager wakes up in a different body every morning. He/she spends a day borrowing someone else’s form, and tries not to impact too much on the hosts life; until he starts to form a relationship with a girl. Comparisons have been made to the TV show Quantum Leap, but this character has no mission, and no self to return to giving freedom to explore many things including identity and morality. The film also has great fun playing with the tropes of teen and high-school movies. The high high-concept is let down by inconsistent pacing and a lack of focus, it is still an enjoyable watch.Every Day

Wildling – A young girl is raised by her father in isolation before being exposed to the outside world. Billed as a horror, this movie is more of an adult fairytale, but these genres are so closely linked, it really doesn’t matter. The concept is good, and the conclusion is satisfying if a little predicable. Bel Powley is excellent and perfectly cast in the lead, but Liv Tyler is given nothing to do and is totally wasted.Wildling

Avengers: Infinity – Ten years of Marvel movies have been leading up to this point, the arrival of Thanos, the franchises chosen big, bad. The series so far has introduced so many characters, it would be impossible to service them all. Amazingly the film manages to give everyone (except a few characters left on the sidelines for future use) reasonable screen time without slowing the narrative. The action scenes are fantastic and the character interactions are often devastatingly funny. The problems are with the narrative; I can’t expand on this and keep this spoiler free, beyond saying that it is most likely part of the setup for the next film, a setup that could be satisfying or infuriating.Avengers Infinity

Battle Royale & Audition – I also went to a double bill screening of these two Japanese modern classics; both are just as brilliant and messed up as I remember.Battle Royale and Audition

The obvious choice is the brilliant horror, A Quiet Place.  Beast came totally out of leftfield and has really stayed with me, on reflection, my letterboxed score was a little low.  But none of these is movie of the month, that honour goes to: Thoroughbreds. Thoroughbreds poster

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