Category Archives: Film

Barry Lyndon Duel Scene Found

 

I spoke a little while back about what makes Barry Lyndon such a great film and about the (first) duel scene in particular.

Well at long last I have visited this very location in Templemichael Co. Waterford (well actually just outside Youghal Co. Cork) and returned with some interesting photographs of this still-tranquil location.

Of course without a wide angle lens it was never going to be possible to ‘recreate the scene’. And some inevitable changes have taken place/ additions made/ removals/ overgrowths, etc. in the past 25 or so years, but overall it’s still recognisably the same place.

 

Take a look.

 

Continue reading Barry Lyndon Duel Scene Found

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg -My Kind of Anti-War Movie

 

There is something self-defeatist about movies that purport to be anti-war spending 90 minutes bathing in blood and comradeship. Violence is its own advertisement. Showing more of it in order to lessen it is akin to invading a country in the name of peace.

Furthermore, like a closet-gay spending an inordinate amount of time ranting against homosexuality, the very people who get their knickers in a twist over onscreen orgiastic blood-letting are often the ones most titillated by it. How else can Gibson’s Passion of the Christ be explained? Extreme violence turned up to a sadistic-11 in the name of all that is holy and righteous.

The truth is Violence and Aggression and Anger and Death are cool. Singing and Romance are not. I say that with a contemptuous sneer, not as a justification for what is considered cool.

Singing & Romance (together) are allowable nowadays only if accompanied by a nod & a wink that advertise how you recognise the inherent uncoolness of it all, but that you are so cool you just don’t care, which makes it acceptable and perversely cool.

But before ironic cool uncoolness there was unapologetic joy and love and beauty and raw emotion without the baggage of the pre-packed Happy Meal mode in which to consume it.

You can fight and complain about what is considered cool -and make a good case as to why it should not be so considered, but the more you do the cooler it gets and the further into Crater of Uncool you dig.

 

Enter The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

 

Continue reading The Umbrellas of Cherbourg -My Kind of Anti-War Movie

What makes Barry Lyndon a Great Film?

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It’s kind of a slow movie, granted, but Barry Lyndon is lovely to look at, to sink into and to soak up. It’s a 3-hour 18th century bath. Made with complete care. Music, visuals, scene-development, plot and camera movement blend together like a ballet (no I’m not into ballet either). I know that might sound like a stuffy sketch of almost any movie, but here it’s different.
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For example, take the duel scene from early in the movie (no spoilers)

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*** You need to TURN IT UP to properly hear the music -the music *must* be clearly heard here. ***

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…you could say it’s a duel, one guy gets shot and the other has to run away to Dublin. The end.

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But -taken from the start… close-up of the guns is like a painting.

Continue reading What makes Barry Lyndon a Great Film?

Dexter -The Fall of The Western Empire

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Can I stick my head above the parapet and say I believe the whole concept of the TV series “Dexter” is deplorable and symptomatic of the decline of western civilisation? Well I’ve said it.

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True I’ve only seen one episode (and it was very well written), but I really don’t want to ever see another -not because it’s not any good, but because I can see how it sucks you in and gets you to empathise with a serial killer and personally I don’t think it’s healthy for individuals or society as a whole to go there. It just ups the ante on what is acceptable.

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I’ll go one teensy bit further and say I believe the best “serial killer movies” are not about the killer himself/ herself (they don’t deserve a movie IMHO), but about the destruction on the individuals surrounding the incidents -detectives, reporters, others becoming obsessed by the crimes to the detriment of themselves and their loved ones. Films like Zodiac and Memories of Murder (Korean) deal with it very well.

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It’s my belief that with the advent of “The Serial Killer Hero”, embodied most blatantly in the likes of Dexter and Hannibal Lector, the whole of society (whatever that is) is becoming embroiled and obsessed by this kind of thing as though each of us is immediately affected.

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Over time and over a large population I don’t believe we are breeding serial killers, but we are increasing “the whole negative vibe”, which is nothing but a self-destructive downer.

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My catchy rallying call for an anti-Dexter type movement would be “Spread Love, not gouge out eyeballs with a tuning fork!”  Do you think it’d catch on? 🙂

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A Very Long Engagement

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Rest assured, there are no plot spoilers in the following images or the review.

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Being in the right frame of mind of a wet and windy Sunday afternoon I decided to rewatch A Very Long Engagement recently. This was possibly my fifth viewing and it still didn’t fail to move, entertain, puzzle and amuse me from start to end.

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It’s the tale of a young woman who refuses to believe her betrothed has died in the trenches in WWI.

. Continue reading A Very Long Engagement

Superman’s Underpants and the movie “Inception”

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See this?

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IMG_3800

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Now, sorry for showing you my bathroom wall, but there’s more to it.

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It’s not easy to explain, but once this photo is put in the frame and placed in that location, behind that piece of string, it then takes on a whole new depth that you can’t see in this photo.

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When Mrs. Rumm saw it she shrugged and sighed and smiled and walked away. Nothing new there then.

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As my (then) 8 year old daughter immediately explained when she first saw it “the first picture is outside!

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Precisely!

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…When we look at this picture in this place we are standing in the outside layer of the image. It’s quite beautiful. 🙂

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Anyway, I posted that pic to illustrate my other point, which is to do with the movie INCEPTION, directed by Christopher Nolan. If you haven’t seen it, look away now because what I’m about to discuss could be seen as a possible spoiler in a way…

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Continue reading Superman’s Underpants and the movie “Inception”

3D or Not 3D?

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Confession: I saw Jaws 3D five times in the cinema. I was a young teenager and, like, IT WAS 3D!!

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There were other 3D movies at the time, such as Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone with Peter Strauss that I saw multiple times because HEY! IT’S 1D BETTER THAN 2D!!!

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Then I grew up.

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If I was a young teen today I’d probably bet wetting myself (and hiding the evidence down the back of the bed) with the selection of 3D movies out and coming soon. Some of them, such as Toy Story 3, aren’t even dependent solely on the 3D effects.

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It’s a glorious time to be 13 and a consumer of movies!

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The problem for me is I’m no longer 13. I don’t care if the flat screen in front of me is displaying layered images as a story is unfolding. The whole effect reminds me of nothing “real”, but most closely resembles parralax scrolling, hailed as awesome as far back as the videogame Moon Patrol in 1982, and now in use most notably in Flash animations across an internet near you (unless you’re an adherant to the religion of Apple).

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It was exhilerating to watch how smoothly a game like Turrican ran on the Commodore Amiga while it presented a background moving on several planes, depending on how far away they were supposed to be. Like WOW!

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Now I don’t care. Now I’m interested only in what’s in the box. Not the box itself.

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But that’s just tough on me because teens are the movie-going demographic du jour. Since I am outside that demographic, the movie studios are not targetting me nor do they care what I think of it.

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For the record though, I thought it important to state my opinion: 3D is a load of crap. …at least 3D in its current (and previous) form, with required glasses , is a load of crap.

It adds nothing but a dark plastic layer between the viewer and the movie. It’s like visiting someone in prison and having to talk with them through a wall of glass. If that wall wasn’t there, even if we were still not allowed to touch or move nearer, wouldn’t we be that much closer?

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It seems every electronics manufacturer in the world has staked its family silver on the mass-adoption of 3D technology. Whether we like it or not, it is coming because “they” have decided.

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Allow me to make a prediction: There is a guaranteed new market crash in our future and 3D technology will play a big part in it. Nobody in anything like big numbers is going to pay cold hard cash to replace their “2D” television so they can have the privilege of watching Coronation Street or Desperate Housewives in 3D. And even if they did, they would soon get fed up with finding and cleaning and replacing their 3D glasses.

It’s just silly to believe it could be any other way.

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Yet, every large multinational conglomerate, from SONY to Samsung, from Nintendo to Mitsubishi (hmm, are all of these Japanese/ Asian?)… OK, from Microsoft to every Hollywood movie studio (some also owned by some of the above), appears to be putting every ounce of their weight behind this technology.

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So what happens when that techology collapses (as it will, inevitably, because as I said: It’s crap)?

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Unknown Knowns

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“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.” -Donald Rumsfeld, 2002.

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I believe Rummy missed one: The unknown knowns.
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In fact, I believe most popular movies/ books/ anything else misses this too. It is a highly underrated knowledge.
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The unknown knowns are those things you know, but aren’t aware you know. They could be things you take for granted or something right under your nose that you never knew you knew about -for example you might “know” something to be true, but never actually think about it (and so not know you know) until perhaps someone else mentions it.

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“She’s pregnant!” …only after you hear it do you realise that you somehow “knew” all along.
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Similarly, the best comedy is often to be had from these unknown knowns -everyday life events we already know about, but weren’t aware we knew or did. When they are held up in front of our eyes, perhaps through a skewed lens, we have to laugh because we recognise what we already knew, but somehow didn’t know we knew.

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Why do I say this is missed by most books and movies nowadays?

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Well, in my opinion the best “works of art” are almost indescribable, yet speak sometimes in a personal nature directly to the reader/ viewer. It’s not something that can be described in the blurb in the back of the book, so it’s not easily marketable, so it’s unappreciated.
Or under-appreciated at least.

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Maybe the book/ movie hasn’t even broached a topic, but yet puts a certain thought in your head or leaves you with a mood that is familiar and yet new. These are the greatest.

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I’ve often turned the last page of a book I really enjoyed and half an hour later could barely remember any of it. To me, that makes the book almost a complete waste of time.

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On the other hand, the best books can often be harder to get into -they need some work by us readers, to place ourselves in the right frame of mind to appreciate “the full show”. But as the last page is turned, we are left floating for a long time afterward. Maybe with much to think about or just to appreciate the mood.

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The unknown knowns can also lead one to that “ah yes of course!” moment, as when you suddenly realise “AAHHH So *THIS* is where it’s all going! -I didn’t know that, but now that I know I know it, I knew it all along!”


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The unknown knowns are the best of all knowns and unknowns because they take the least effort with the greatest reward (or at least the groundwork has already been done, maybe subconsciously).

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NOW… The next time you find a forgotten tenner in your back-pocket you will hold it aloft and declare with joy: “The unknown known!”  🙂

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Jim Emerson has a good discussion on Rumsfeld’s points here.

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Synecdoche, New York -Send me the bill

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I had a  problem with Being John Malkovich. I loved its originality and its “fun-ness”, but I didn’t engage with the movie ultimately. I watched it a second time to make sure and yup, second time around I found it even more lacking. It was as hollow as the inside of John Malkovich’s head -the movie’s John Malkovich I mean of course.

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I haven’t seen Human Nature yet, despite the DVD being on my shelf for quite some time. Soon.

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Adaptation seemed a little too aware of itself. I enjoyed it a lot, but it felt a bit forced at times -as though the driving thought was “how can we take this a step further?” rather than “what is real for this world?”

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I’ll have to watch Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind again, because I only saw it once and I think that was spoilt for me slightly by wearing (not great) headphones so as not to disturb the sleeping family upstairs. I liked the movie’s sadness and regret and its “struggle to do better”/ to rectify a lost relationship before it’s too late, etc., but again (with the cheap headphones proviso as a gimme) I felt like I was an outsider looking through a window at someone else.

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That’s not something I can say about Synecdoche New York, the first Charlie Kaufman film made by Charlie Kaufman.

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It’s not about me or anyone I know. It’s not even about the main character (“Caden Cotard”). It’s about living. Or at least, about living a life trying to know oneself.

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It sounds a bit high-falutin’ I know -and I know some people don’t/ won’t/ don’t want to get it and that’s fine by me. I’m not saying everyone has to get it by any means, but I’d like to state for the record that it’s a lovely lovely film and I should have made it my business to see it when it played for a wet week in a distant creaky cinema some vague time ago in my not-so-distant past.

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It’s quite hard to say any more about the movie because I think it’s the kind of movie that you feel rather than understand. In some ways understanding it and analysing it kind of defeats the purpose. It’d be like feeling sad, then afterwards looking for a reason to be sad. In a way, if you found that reason it wouldn’t measure up to the feeling you had before you found it.

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It’s also the kind of movie that those who love it prefer not to say so, because

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a) it’s personal -and “nobody else will feel this way about it anyway” -and “it sounds a bit lovey and artsy fartsy when I try to describe it” -and “I don’t know how to describe what I think about it anyway because I don’t even undestand it” -and “I just don’t want to” (not in an apathetic way, but in a selfish way -“this is my movie and I’m not sharing it with you”).

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and

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b)  it’s the kind of movie you get spat at for recommending to others when they rent it out and demand you pay them their money back for the rental and two hours spent viewing, not to mention the emotional trauma of sitting through something so off the wall.

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and

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c) friends will hate you and will be steadfastly convinced you hate the movie and that you feel “superior” and you only say you love it because it’s an independent movie that’s not a Hollywood blockbuster. And they thought it was a piece of shit.

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And who needs that self-alienation? Friends should hate you for what you do, not for an ephemeral ‘other’ …best save up those “reasons I give my friends to hate me” for something that is actually me.

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So, Synecdoche New York is a great film. But I’m not recommending you see it unless you’re ready to see it. It’s not a hard movie to watch. It’s not artsy fartsy. It’s not humorless. It’s just ununderstandable. In a good way. In a way that is fun to think about. And to feel.

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In fact, I think you should see it. You owe it to yourself. Pay for it too. Send me the bill.

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I won’t pay the bill of course, but I’ll frame it and say “I did a good deed” whenever I look at your bill on my wall. And a little part of me will think of you too when I look at that bill. In fact you could say, your bill will make you famous for a lifetime to at least one other individual.

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Go on. Buy Synecdoche New York on DVD or Blu Ray or whatever today. And send me the bill.

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….And one last piece of advice: DO NOT WATCH IT IN PIECES.
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Wait until you have two full hours to spare without distraction (as best you can guess), put it on, then watch it to the end. You might feel like switching off, if only for a cup of tea, but I urge you to stay sitting and stay watching. It’ll be worth it. Don’t stop Don’t pause. Like all the best things, this movie builds. You can’t possibly appreciate that construction by stopping and starting.

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Synecdoche New York -best film in yeeeeaars.

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The Hurt Locker

I’ve read a number of posts/ articles/ essays complaining of inaccuracies in the film The Hurt Locker. To my mind each of these completely miss the point of the movie.

I don’t believe this movie has much to do with the Iraq war to be honest. I can see why serving soldiers wouldn’t like it because it’s not looking to capture realism, but rather it portrays the heightened tensions/ emotions/ situations of people on the frontline (or near enough to it).

It takes many liberties in doing so, but to my mind this makes it a better film. It’s less a photograph than a mood/tone-orientated painting, possibly missing much/most factual information, but instead translating the emotion and many more  (perhaps otherwise indescribable) aspects of the world it is presenting.

Ultimately (as the quote at the start of the movie reveals) it’s about adrenelin addiction rather than “Iraq”. Tension is racked up and diffused continuously. It can all end in a mighty explosion or a disappointing deflation -literally, figuratively, emotionally, physically. It doesn’t matter if the events that bring the protagonist or the viewer to this experience are real-world approximations or flights of imagination. What matters is you share in the more ephemeral/ ’emotional’ aspect so you understand where the protagonist is situated mentally (in his head) rather than physically (as, in this movie, in Iraq).
The Hurt Locker is more a movie about thrill seekers, gamblers and junkies than it is about war in Iraq (or anywhere else). To my mind it’s a great movie, but I can understand how it can be ‘misunderstood’ by people who expect it to be something else.

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For a better representation of War in Iraq, Generation Kill is the start and end point.

As this image shows, it’s from David Simon, creator of The Wire -the best TV show ever in the history of TV. Generation Kill is a lot shorter than The Wire and to my sensibilities slightly slower to get into, but a damn fine truthful representation of war from a particular (grunt/marine) aspect. Not that I’m in a position to comment on what that’s like, but for anyone looking for a representation of “war in Iraq” I would steer them here rather than The Hurt Locker.