Posts Tagged politics
So what have I been doing for the past couple of months that’s precluded me from rambling about popular culture here? Working on screenplays, mostly. (One down! One with a long, long way to go!) But I’ve also been doing plenty of film-related interviews for Time Out, so here are some recent highlights:
Experimental filmmaker Guy Maddin talks about his body of work, the development of his visual style, and his mistrust of cinematic ‘realism’.
Skins’ actor Kaya Scodelario on the challenges of playing Cathy in Andrea Arnolds’ new, poetic adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
Geoffrey Wright looks back at his controversial Romper Stomper on its 20th anniversary, and tells why just-starting-out filmmakers should take more risks.
Bollywood superstar Vidya Balan discusses lascivious winking,’virtual sex’, and shifts in Hindi cinema.
Here’s Claudio Simonetti of Goblin on how a young Italian rock band created one of the most famous horror soundtracks of all time for Dario Argento’s Suspiria.
And B-movie legend Larry Cohen – of It’s Alive, God Told Me To, and The Stuff – explains why most Hollywood films are so screwed up.
(Yeah, it’s directors. Goddamn directors.)
Here’s my apologetic review of The Messenger from the latest issue of triple j magazine. I somehow missed this entirely when it was playing in cinemas, and it turned out to be much more interesting than expected. (Also – just in case it kills you like it did me – hey, that’s Eli from Freaks and Geeks!)
Director: Oren Moverman
Starring: Ben Foster, Samantha Morton, Woody Harrelson
Do you hate your job? Well, suck it up. In The Messenger, injured soldier Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is assigned to one of the worst jobs on earth: the Casualty Notification Team that informs the next of kin that a loved one has died in combat. They’re tough, tattooed soldiers who stick expressionlessly to a script. (Rule #1: no hugging.)
Will is taught the ropes by an eccentric mentor, played by Woody Harrelson as 50% laid-back charmer, 50% snorting bull. He’s good, but I was more amazed by Ben Foster’s jittery performance as Ben. Even when he sweetly connects with a new widow (Samantha Morton), he never seems less than dangerous. Director Oren Moverman was a writer first (including penning the Bob Dylan kinda-but-not-really biopic I’m Not There) and he doesn’t rely on battle flashbacks for instant drama. He just lets the characters tell their stories in long, painful takes.
If you skipped The Messenger because you were expecting another preachy anti-war weepy – it’s not. It’s unpredictable, moving, often mesmerising.
Other reviews this month: a rave for Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a boo for Romero’s Survival of the Dead, and a suspicious ‘huh?’ for Catfish.
Issue #47 on sale now.
Here’s my short review of UK revenge flick Harry Brown from the latest issue of jmag. One thing I didn’t manage to squeeze into the wordcount was a mention of its killer opening scene – like a low-rent remake of the first moments of Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days.
Directed by: Daniel Barber
Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
Michael Caine has always been a “working actor”, happy to accept a role now rather than wait around for something better. It’s why he’s been in so many great films as well as so many shockers. Harry Brown is somewhere in the middle.
This “vigilante pensioner” flick plays shamelessly into the story currently fuelling newspapers worldwide: KIDS THESE DAYS ARE SOCIOPATHIC MONSTERS WHO’LL KILL YOU AS SOON AS LOOK AT YOU, GRANDPA! Caine brings echoes of his legendary 1971 Get Carter hardarse to Harry – an elderly ex-marine who decides enough is enough. The emotional realism of his performance gives the movie a classiness that doesn’t mesh with its grimy, cartoonish thrills. (Especially the ridiculous digitally-added spurting blood.)
Most vigilante films pay at least a little lip-service to the fact that revenge is wrong – fun, sure, but wrong. Harry Brown has no such qualms. You’ll have to balance your desire to see Michael Caine kill teenage thugs with how dirty cheering him on might make you feel afterwards.
Other reviews this month: Fish Tank, Baghead, and True Blood: Season Two on DVD.
Issue #40 on sale now.