This superb debut from Boyle shows his immediate comfort in the director's chair, with his trademark use of pop music and frenetic camerawork appearing right from the start of this wonderful crime thriller. John Hodge's script was purportedly inspired by the early work of the Coen brothers, and this story of supposedly innocent people being drawn into a more sinister world certainly feels reminiscent of much of the duo's work, but the Edinburgh setting gives this film a very different atmosphere.
Unfortunately I had the ending to 'Shallow Grave' partially spoiled for me by the director himself - in a fascinating interview between him and Mark Kermode - but this really didn't hinder my enjoyment of the film at all. Hodge's script is brilliant in its believability, from the naturalistic dialogue to the extreme but understandable character arcs, and the three stars (including then-unknowns Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor) excel thanks to this.
Surprisingly, 'Shallow Grave' reminded me stylistically of Kubrick's '70s work, in particular 'A Clockwork Orange', with its visual potency emerging thanks to the brightness of the sets rather than any post-production colour grading. The main flat in which the majority of the film takes place is a fantastic set, feeling unnaturally roomy and allowing for some great, sweeping camerawork. Most impressively, 'Shallow Grave' doesn't feel dated at all. The early '90s was a fairly ugly time, and yet this film feels as fresh and exciting as it must have upon release, it's only a shame that Boyle is perhaps at his best so early in his career.
For a film made up of eight separate, unrelated stories, 'Dreams' is commendable in its unity for the most part. Themes of man vs. nature, solitude and survival are repeatedly examined, and it is this depth and openness to examination which makes the film so interesting. Unfortunately, as is often the case with films made up of different vignettes, 'Dreams' is let down by some of the lesser parts.
'Dreams' is a perfect film for discussion. With very little dialogue and a minimalist score, Kurosawa really takes his time with his dream stories, meaning that perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of watching the film was discussing what it all really meant. Dreams can create some fascinating imagery and although the stories are sometimes meandering and plodding, they are always beautifully shot.
Kurosawa's assured and precise camerawork cannot be faulted in this film as in most of his others, with the camera moving only when necessary, complementing some really outstanding composition, most notable in the first (the fox wedding dream), second (the peach blossom dream) and the final (the watermill village dream) sections. These sequences perhaps also best evoke the nature of a dreamscape, feeling believable despite the impossible or unlikely stories.
Unfortunately 'Dreams' has some sections which really let it down, most notably a sequence in which the protagonist finds himself inside a series of Van Gogh paintings, and the two nuclear apocalypse dreams which come across as both cheesy and preachy. Without these three dreams this film would have felt much more complete and consistent. That said, 'Dreams' is a film that will provide a lot of good discussion as well as some memorable visuals, and for those reasons alone it is well worth watching.
Just added: Before Sunset, Alphaville and The Awful Truth
'The Awful Truth' is the kind of film where you know exactly what will happen and yet really don't care at all. It is very much an archetypal screwball rom-com, and Cary Grant and Irene Dunn are unbeatable as the flawed but lovable married couple who are the main focus of the film's attention. You'll have seen every scene in this film before, but these classic moments have never felt as fresh as they do here. 'The Awful Truth' is both truly funny and truly romantic, and sometimes that's all you want and need.
Tom "Tom Flew" Flew rewatched
No doubt the definitive adaptation. The endlessly brilliant Gene Wilder is at the top of his game as the titular unhinged yet genius chocolatier, instigating both the most comic and most sinister moments of the film. Although some of the sets feel dated, 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' remains thoroughly entertaining and totally true in spirit to its source.
So says you, and pretty much everyone else :)
I can´t drum up too much of a credible defense in honor of this one.
I do view this as much more of satire, than a female fronted Hangover though. Well at least I think Not sure how well it actually pulls if off though.