Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Martyrs’

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

Read Full Post »

When I received a DVD in the post from the rental company I subscribe to I was a little disappointed as I didn’t remember adding it to my watch list, however I was pleasantly surprised by The Tall Man resulting in the question: why didn’t it get a cinema release? So for the first time in two and half years I give you an entry into my “DVD Gems”.

A small mining town in Washington State is slowly dying since the mine closed. Amidst the desolation the towns children are slowly disappearing one by one, the police and the community have no idea what is happening beyond the presence as a mythical “tall Man”. Everyone appears to have given up and the local police are inept, only Seattle detective, Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie) and young nurse (Jessica Biel) have any life or vigour remaining. Beyond that it wouldn’t be fair to spoil any of the plot.the tall man

There was a time during The Tall Man that I thought of Martyrs (2008). Having sat down to watch the movie with no prior knowledge or expectations I didn’t realise at the time that the two movies share a writer and director in the shape of the darling of the New French Extreme, Pascal Laugier. With this in mind it is even more surprising that the movie didn’t find its way into UK cinema’s. Not as good as Martyrs but more accessible and less extreme it could have easily found an audience amongst horror fans, however it isn’t actually a horror movie although it shares many themes and tropes of the genre. It is a well paced and well constructed atmospheric thriller far from a horror shocker. For fans of the genre, it is a perfect case of “bait and switch” but I won’t say how, that would ruin it. There are twists and turns in the plot, the most daring of them isn’t necessarily daring in its reveal as much as how early in the movie it happens. To its credit, it keeps you hooked beyond this point and keeps you asking questions about what is going on. It has its problems, chief amongst them is the stereotypical and clichéd small town setting with its stereotypical clichéd characters. This however is integral to the plot and as distracting as it can not be avoided.the tall man jessica biel

Director Pascal Laugier and director of photography Kamal Derkaoui have created a stunning looking movie. The photography if very dark, even in the daytime, this helps evoke a feeling of desperation and despair in the dying town. The sets perfectly give the impression of a setting a generation shy of becoming a ghost town. This fits well both with the thriller aspects of the movie as well as the underlying social commentary. The cast is perfect with Jessica Biel giving a suitably intense and low key performance. Stephen McHattie plays a suitably grizzled detective. Jodelle Ferland (who looks more like horror/thriller queen Danielle Harris every time I see her) acts as narrator but also plays a part that strings the elements of the story together, she does a great job.Tall-Man Jodelle Ferland

The film is at its best and its greatest achievement is when it expects audiences to think about what they have seen and how they feel about them. It leaves its conclusion open. I don’t mean unfinished or even ambiguous, just open. This isn’t a David Lynch movie where we question what we have seen and what it means, It gives us a series of events that by the end, the facts are clear and without question, however the morality and meaning are left for the viewer to decide. The overriding theme and the question it poses were asked a few years ago in a very different movie (I won’t name it as it will give too much away), while the other movie in question was better, it was also more closed in its opinion. As with the other movie most people will draw one of two conclusions, however it is possible to like or dislike the film on its own merits regardless of which camp you are into, the movie isn’t preaching one idea or the other, it is asking a question. This along with the plot twists may be what is putting some people off. If you feel cheated by plot twists of like being told what to think avoid this film.the tall man Stephen McHattie

If you reed the numerous (and somewhat mixed) reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB you would be forgiven for thinking the movie is incoherent thanks to the plot twists, I am happy to report they are wrong! There are twists and turns in the plot, while they may or may not be surprising, but they are never incoherent or hard to follow. Far from a classic but certainly a memorable entry into the genre and far better than many that get a cinema/theatrical release.

Read Full Post »