Monday, 4 October 2010

Round Two of Five At Once.

Right, I'm fairly well on record on not being Christian Bale's biggest fan, but this DVD was fanging about in the living room and I had nothing to watch and I kept hearing such great things about, and about his performance (I'd heard similar things about his showing in American Psycho, and we all know how that panned out...) I think the points given to him in The Machinist are for his weight loss, which yes, while demonstrating incredible commitment, also demonstrates a level of insanity - boy, that's going too far. And he still seemed like Christian Bale. Emaciated, but still him. An interesting tale of being haunted by your conscience, it might have played better if Fight Club hadn't done such a bang up job a few years earlier. I remember being a little scared in a few points, but I shit myself over anything. 2 stars.

Have I mentioned that I love Atom Egoyan's name? Yes, I think I might have here. His name will always draw me to his films. Of course, whacking Julianne Moore in there is going to go a long way towards me heading out to see it also. I liked The Sweet Hereafter, but not so much Chloe. It was fine, I guess, but it didn't grab me the same way. The family drama was all a little off. Moore was terrific, as always, but I didn't quite gel with Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson. I just don't think they quite worked. (Max Thierot was cute though...) And the cerebral nature of everything kept it all a little cool and distant - the white rooms and glass everywhere, I can see where it was going with the kind of sterile environment and how that plays against the drama within, but it was all a little too much. It was a fine film that could have been great but in the end I feel that it missed it because of lazy visual cues. 2.5 stars.

Man, I totally don't even know where to start with Aguirre: Wrath Of God. Werner Herzog is one crazy, crazy guy. Like, seriously. Nuts. Brilliant, but loopy. I definitely don't think I can contain all that is this film in such a nutshell. Klaus Kinski is the titular Aguirre in a South American expedition to find El Dorado. He takes charge, seizes power if you will, and leads his troops or whatever onwards against all common sense, coming under attack from all sides, until eventually his men are hallucinating and he is proclaiming himself the wrath of god whilst covered in monkeys. No, really. Herzog really laid the groundwork for many of his latter films with this one. Kinski is terrifyingly mad, Herzog is terrifyingly creative, and the film somehow works for it all. It's mental, absolutely mental, but such a riveting piece of filmmaking, and seemingly such an influence on films such as Apocalypse Now (I'm seeing it - anyone else?)(In looking back, that's another film I watched and didn't write up. Damn.) 4.5 stars.

This is a film I really want to spend time on. But I must be strong. Abbas Kiarostami is a genius, he really is. I really enjoyed Close-Up, I loved loved loved Taste of Cherry, and now I really liked Ten as well. His is an oeuvre I really need to explore in much more depth, and repeatedly. Here, he has ten episodes of customers (or a son) in the passenger seat of a van, driven by their psychologist, who is interacting with her as she drives them around Tehran. It's such a simple concept, all taking place within the car, but it is a masterclass in what can be achieved with so little, and so simply. It is truly beautiful and a wondrous look at the often ignored stories of the women in this part of the world, opening them up not as victims of repression but as people just like the rest of us. Without it ever feeling like that is what is going on. Truly marvelous. 5 stars.

The major thing I can say about Food, Inc. is that is has changed the way I eat. Literally. I pay so much more attention to it now. To where my produce is coming from. To its content. I'm shopping more at farmer's markets when I can, but when I can't I'm doing everything within my means to make sure I pay attention to the lessons learnt from this film. Because they are many. The film follows in the footsteps of other docos like The Cove that are truly terrifying, particularly affecting (I've only eaten salmon twice since watching The Cove, and I used to eat salmon a lot. And they don't even mention salmon!) I can't recommend it highly enough, but be prepared to be very challenged about your habits. As a look at the global food industry, it is a horrifying exposé. Overly didactic and preachy in parts, perhaps, but when dealing with a subject as important as this one, a little bit of ramming down the throat probably doesn't go astray. 4.5 stars.

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