Tag Archives: David Cronenberg

Oh Spielberg sometimes you just blow my mind…

13 Nov

So what does one do when they’re exhausted, overworked and feeling downright lazy? Well many of my lovely friends probably turn to some retail therapy, however I have to say I’m glad I head to the cinema. This weekend was no exception. Firstly lets get some admin out of the way…

Huge apologies in the first instance for my tardiness this month in terms of blogging. Following my fantastic stint at the London Film Festival, I’m afraid exhaustion and lack of money somewhat took over and I’ve been back to the daily grind trying to pull in some pennies. Having a rare day off like today, I’m happy to report that in the last week I’ve been lucky enough to watch not one but two fabulous films: The Help (Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain) and The Adventures of Tin Tin – The Secret of the Unicorn. So where does one begin? Well after that turkey of a film A Dangerous Method, which was my last review, I’m happy to report that I have some uplifting content for you – the Hollywood studios haven’t gone completely to pot, even if David Cronenberg does seemed to have stumbled into a very large pot hole with that latest offering…lets move swiftly on shall we?

THE HELP

Its the time of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and where the class divide is at its most evident we follow the story of a tenacious young female writer (“Skeeter” – Emma Stone) as the unconventional middle class Jacksonville daughter who sees straight through the Stepford lifestyles of her friends and finds wonderful compassion in the stories of those who help make the households the show homes that these women and their families live in. Convincing the black community of maids to start telling their stories, she unveils the mis treatment, inequality and narrow mindedness of not only women but men in that period of time.

This film for me sits a staple piece of fantastic storytelling – much like The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. It made me laugh, made me cry and most importantly it made me learn from the film. I would like to class it as one of those films which you would quite happily keep in your collection and refer back to year upon year for a pleasant watch with great performances and a morality tale for the last century.

The performances as I previously mentioned are wonderful, Emma Stone leads the pack with her ugly duckling heroine Skeeter who is not afraid to be who she really is and cross boundaries to allow other people to try and live a better life. I couldn’t think of a better actress than Stone to play this part. We also have the almost unrecognisable Jessica Chastain as Ceelia Foote, the outcast ‘hussy’ who really puts dumb blonde on another level. Her versatility in her roles demonstrates her to be one of the most exciting new actresses in Hollywood at the moment. The one who really stands out for me however, is Bryce Dallas Howard who plays the ‘villain’ of the piece Hilly Holbrook. So desperate to be the perfect wife she reminds you of the prettiest but meanest girl in school with her posse of dimwitted followers at her feet. Howard expertly portrays this character with such a fine balance that audiences really begin to hate everything she is and stands for (she throws her own mother ‘Sissy Spacek’ into a nursing home for laughing at her!) but at the same time you can’t help but warm to her lack of awareness and education and although her comeuppance is comedic, it still brings forth the overall messages of the film.

A wonderful film, great performances and if you haven’t yet read the book, I’m pleased to say that its not the be all and end all, you can still enjoy the film regardless and if you’re anything like me, make sure you bring a box of tissues for the second half of the film – its a weepy!

THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN – THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN

Where do I begin with this one? Well lets start with a bold statement – this film hosts possibly the best animation in a film I have ever seen!!! There you go, how d’you like them apples?! From start to finish I was gripped. I usually don’t like 3D movies a hell of a lot, my eyes start to hurt and I hate how the glasses make the screen just that tad darker. But never the less, I can safely say that I was lost with this film. Lost in a fantasy world where Indiana Jones meets Pirates of the Caribbean and everything you’d want from a great family film adventure was handed to you on a plate… Oh if only it was real…wait a minute, it is isn’t it? I certainly got lost for a good few moments forgetting that what I was watching was an animation. Although different in form, whatever hype there was around the skills of Avatar, here Spielberg blows Cameron out of the water!!!

So the story follows the journalist Tin Tin (Jamie Bell), who by buying a model of a 16th Century boat (as you do) lands himself in the middle of an age old rivalry between a pirate (of course) and a Captain Haddock – (Andy Serkis, pure genius). On his quest to uncover the story of this rivalry and inevitable hoard of treasure, we follow Tin Tin’s journey around the seven seas as he pieces together the puzzle.

The detail in the animation is just phenomenal, my particular highlights are when one scene merges into the next and like a wave magicians wand we are transported to a flashback of a land far and wide! Now there are a few minor faults, it does take just a pinch too long to get going in the beginning, but you’ll quickly forgive that. This film is smart, funny, and the chase scene towards the end is just exquisite. Like the Goonies is for me now, if I was ten years old, this would be the film I would take through with me to adulthood as my keepsake. Its just an absolute gem, and without giving too much away I would urge you to see it on the big screen before it’s too late.

Oh and just one last comment – its quite clear from this film, that Tin Tin wouldn’t be half as famous as he is if it wasn’t for his genius dog Snowy! Why can’t all pets be that clever!!

Finally to help you on your way to the cinema, here’s my LSQTV colleague Michael Kern getting all the film’s gossip at the premiere of Tin Tin last month…enjoy!!

 

 

David Cronenberg’s Dangerous Disaster

26 Oct

So the end of the festival is imminent. As of Monday my personal work there was done. It was a fantastic festival – huge highs and not so many lows. Things were going almost perfectly until I watched A Dangerous Method. Having been routing for Keira Knightley to finally stick her two fingers up at audiences who think she’s nothing more than a pretty face, I would have thought taking on such a daring role as Sabina Speilrein in David Cronenberg’s (The Fly) A Dangerous Method would finally prove the world wrong. Oh no, instead how wrong Cronenberg must have been to have thought she could have taken on this role in the first place. Unfortunately along with Cronenberg’s made for TV movie styling of the film, her performance was, for me the most problematic of this overall awful film. However having left the screening with some people liking not only the film itself but her performance, I decided to scour the internet to read other reviews (from Venice) on the film – luckily I found I was not alone in my sentiments.

This particular blog  written by Thomas Grimshaw from Shooting People’s blog actually took the words right out of my mouth, so I thought rather than ramble on and double up on inefficient workload, I would, in this particular instance, just point you in the direction of his wise words instead. Such a shame – I really was hoping for more with this film – but here you go…

Thomas Grimshaw ask’s David Cronenberg what the christ went wrong?! 

When it was announced that David Cronenberg was to direct the screen adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, there was a palpable buzz in the air. Given Cronenberg’s history of producing idiosyncratic and rigorously intellectual films with a taste for the psychoanalytic, the idea that he was to venture forth into the combative relationship between Freud and Jung was a tantalisingly sexy prospect. Set in turn of the century Vienna, A Dangerous Method details the relationship between psychoanalysists Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and a disturbed young woman named Sabina, who will later become the renowned female psychoanalysist Sabina Speilrein. When Jung begins an affair with the girl, the fallout ruptures the relationship between the two men and sets them both on different ideological paths; Freud in favour of a treatment rooted in scientific method whilst Jung drifts towards a counsel of hypothetical mysticism.

Given all we know about the film there was hope of this giving rise to a jamboree of sexual peccadilloes, strained Germanic accents, death and an air of haughty perversion.  The question that must be asked then, is, what in Christ’s name went wrong? The fact that I was unable to determine whether this was in fact a comedy or not seems as good a place to start as any. Admittedly I laughed: lots in fact, but the stoic, hardened faces of its cast whilst delivering its diluted crib-notes on psychoanalysis and shamanism seemed at odds with the bountiful laughter occurring around me.  That said, Cronenberg has always garnished even his most disturbing work with a perverse sense of humour, however if that same fact applies to A Dangerous Method it would appear that Cronenberg’s idea of comedy has regressed to that of a child learning about the birds and the bees.  The other fairly major stumbling block is that for a film so concerned with the concept of sex, is how unbelievably impotent the whole affair feels. Apart from Sabina getting herself royally spanked by an over eager Jung, the film barely visualises the topic that get Freud and Jung all hot and heavy in the first place, instead restricting it to the world of musty drawing rooms where the smell of sex is nowhere near as potent as the smoke emanating from Freud’s phallic cigar.

Despite the initial guffaws that surrounded the casting of Nordic cave-dweller Viggo Mortensen as the elderly, bearded Freud, he’s actually one of the only actors to leave the film with their dignity intact, instead he seemingly has a blast subverting everyone’s expectations by delivering every line with a cock of the head and an ironic twinkle in his eye. Keira Knightley as Sabina fares much worse, when we first see her; screaming and contorting her body with such vigorous abandon she seems in fear of wrenching the whole film from its sprockets and cart-wheeling off down the road with it. Strangely though it’s Michael Fassbinder as the central figure Jung who comes off worst. Although not as violently grating as Knightley, at least the screen is somewhat illuminated by her schizophrenic energy, with Fassbinder the film comes to a stop; not so much a performance but a black hole of inertia that threatens to entropy everything in its path. After his charismatic turn in Shame it really is profoundly stunning that the man has managed to produce a performance of such claustrophobic tedium.  Finally, there is Vincent Cassel whose only purpose seems to be to demonstrate the compulsive, hedonistic pleasure principle (perfect casting) of Freud’s most famous concept. We know this because he uses cocaine and talks about his many, many mistresses; he couldn’t be more obvious if he had ‘id’ branded across his forehead. At least he has the decency to disappear within the first half an hour.

It really is incredibly perplexing how awful this film is at times, Cronenberg has definitely had his misfires over the years, but it’s certainly rare for a director of such regard to sink to such amateurish depths within only a short space of time, although History of Violence was serviceable; displaying moments of wit and genuine danger, Eastern Promises heralded a dramatic downturn in his talents and with A Dangerous Method now in tow the future looks less than promising. With his next film also on the horizon; an adaptation of Don Delilo’s Cosmopolis, we can only hope that the safety net of familiar postmodernist territory can shield him from the looming sense of castration that effectively killed off the careers of Brian de Palma and Paul Verehoven.