RSS feed for Glen
  • Selma

    Selma 2014

    Watched 26 Mar, 2015

    I am inadequate but I made a commitment to write about every movie I see this year so here goes:

    Proceeds logically and inexorably from problem (Annie Lee Cooper trying to vote and the Birmingham Church Bombing) to obstacle (the lack of political urgency and intransigent, violent opponents) to solution (nonviolent activism). Everything in this film is filled with purpose. A cross constantly hangs over Dr King's shoulder, the film's colour scheme is made up of blacks, browns and whites…

  • '71

    '71 2014

    Watched 22 Mar, 2015

    '71 has a mildly disappointing lack of specificity to it. Its politics - specifically it's rejection of militarism by way of asserting that every side is terrible and that civilian populations bear the brunt of war in a variety of awful ways - could be mapped on to nearly any given conflict. As such it's not a thriller about The Troubles so much as a Troubles themed thriller. That said it is a very well executed one. It contains a…

  • The Bride with White Hair

    The Bride with White Hair 1993

    Watched 17 Mar, 2015

    The kind of gloriously ostentatious film in which the question isn't whether a shot will be taken at a Dutch angle but rather how extreme the angle will be. There are also the requisite intense blue filters for night time scenes and many shots look to have been taken against hand painted backgrounds (don't quote me on that last one though). It's a style that suits the story perfectly. Both main characters are orphans who betray their adopted families for…

  • Wild Reeds

    Wild Reeds 1994

    Watched 16 Mar, 2015

    •This film feels like it was made to keep its makers from forgetting their own youth. At one point a character says something like "There's something worse than war; it's forgetting." As such the film is overflowing with events and characters and themes.

    •Adults are perpetually disappointing; they sympathise and struggle to understand but they're failures as confidants, role models and life lines.

    • Téchiné does well to synchronise motion and emotion. There's a terrific scene in which a character's…

  • Blue Velvet

    Blue Velvet 1986

    Watched 16 Mar, 2015

    Blue Velvet's characters constantly remark on just how strange the world is but in case someone in the audience mishears them there's always the regular human ear made alien by close-up, the lip syncing mobster or the non-stop perspective distortion to set them straight. It's all the more ironic then that Blue Velvet's world is not very strange at all.

    I suppose it's darker than the idealised catalogs of suburbia, with capital E Evil lurking inside even the most straight-laced…

  • Barking Dogs Never Bite

    Barking Dogs Never Bite 2000

    Watched 11 Mar, 2015

    In many ways this is the kind of formally flashy film first time directors often make. Every other cut in Barking Dogs Never Bite is a match cut and on one of the occasions that it's not it's a rather goofy demonstration of the Kuleshov effect that appears to have been used for no readily apparent reason. (Aside from linking the two main characters I guess? But they are already pretty firmly linked by that point...)

    That's not to say…

  • Foxcatcher

    Foxcatcher 2014

    Watched 10 Mar, 2015

    Foxcatcher's script is a very straightforward and unremarkable portrait of masculine relationships, power dynamics, wealth and patriotism. Fortunately Bennett Miller and his cast make it weird; shooting it in stark light, highlighting characters' physicality and using silence to their advantage. The end result is a much colder and less conventional film than I was expecting given its Oscar nominations.

  • Horse Feathers

    Horse Feathers 1932

    Watched 08 Mar, 2015

    The moment when Groucho breaks the fourth wall to inform the audience that, although he must stay and suffer through a musical performance, they may wait in the foyer surprised me because it seemed so shockingly contemporary. Of course it's nothing of the sort. Breaking the fourth wall was common in the 20th Century and, as vaudevillians, involving the audience in such a manner was probably something that came naturally to the Marx brothers.

    There's a lot of stuff in…

  • The Breakfast Club

    The Breakfast Club 1985

    Watched 07 Mar, 2015

    Oddly perverse in that it ostensibly seeks to break down stereotypes about high school cliques and yet every additional detail only confirms the stereotypes as they're presented at the beginning. The Breakfast Club is also kind of noxious in the way it lays into Claire. You can see the hand of a former frustrated teenage boy in its condemnation of her for being a "tease". It does have the nice sense of comic timing though. The slow build of gags…

  • Ashoka the Great

    Ashoka the Great 2001

    Watched 04 Mar, 2015

    •I suspect people would be slightly more enamoured of biopics if they regularly took the form of colourful, song-studded, epic, melodramatic romances (that demand a lot of adjectives). Aśoka may be long but it's also aggressively made - cuts are commonly preceded by zooms and whip pans - and it prioritises entertainment over historical accuracy. (Oscar nitpickers wouldn't know where to start.)

    •It has an interesting two-fold approach to violence. Some of it is designated as guilt-free action, in which…

  • Shanghai Triad

    Shanghai Triad 1995

    Watched 02 Mar, 2015

    Shanghai Triad takes the familiar approach to 1930s Shanghai as a place of wealth, opportunity and corrupting vices that sits in stark contrast to a simple virtuous countryside. The truth is considerably more nuanced: most of Shanghai's residents worked as pedicab drivers, factory labours, taxi dancers and the like while living in hovels or in cramped, sublet houses. In many cases they were actually worse off than "country bumpkins". The "money and sin" approach does mirror the contemporary, popular perception…

  • Citizenfour

    Citizenfour 2014

    Watched 01 Mar, 2015

    •The erosion of privacy and the frightening nature of government's ability to monitor electronic communications is conveyed not only by the explicit text but also comes across through people's actions in the documentary. The constant collection of cell phones, unplugging of telephones, nervousness about the likelihood of doors getting kicked down and of injunctions being issued speaks as well to the issue as does the explicit talk about exactly how, for example, Tempora works.

    •At times it risks pushing into…