As anyone who has read the journal from the making of Life Just Is will know, in the last few years I have become something of an obsessive diarist. In amongst the scribbles pertaining to my filmmaking, I have also taken to writing down my thoughts on every film I see. These reviews (for want of a better word) are written for my own benefit, and up until now I've never seen any reason for them not to stay that way. However, as we move firmly into the New Year, I've decided it's time for a change – and, from now on, I'm going to aim to publish these scribblings right here, on this very blog, on a weekly basis (normally, I suspect, on a Sunday or Monday).
Why the change? It's hard to say for sure. Perhaps it's partly because I keep telling a friend of mine that she should publish the extensive notes she has a habit of making every time she watches a film. Perhaps it's the influence (inspiration) of Harriet Warman, who has been consistently publishing her thoughts on her weekly viewing over on her blog. I may not watch as many films as Harriet, or write about them as eloquently, but seeing as I'm taking the time to note down my thoughts, I felt like I might as well begin sharing them. How long this sharing will last remains to be seen, but it's an idea…for now at least.
The life of this weekly feature will partly depend upon what effect it has on my writing – the reviews I write in my journal have a different tone to the reviews I write for publication, precisely because (until now) they've been written for my own benefit. They are often pithy, unadorned, unpolished. They are quick scribbles – and it is these quick scribbles that I will now be reproducing here, verbatim, with no further work done on them.
So, it's an experiment, of sorts. But hopefully one you'll enjoy (feel free to let me know in the comments section). Anyway, without any further ado, here we go – week one!
Ben and I went to see Life of Pi. I thought it had some interesting ideas about religion, but I wasn't sure that it really went anywhere with them – it was kind of just a little… dull. The narrative structure (framing device) sucked all the drama out of the film, because we knew Pi was going to survive his ordeal unharmed. I also found the switch in narrator – from old Pi to young Pi – a little problematic. Still, it had some good visuals, and the VFX were excellent. I also thought it made good use of 3D – although I'm still not a convert. There's something distracting about it (sometimes there's a kind of flicker in the image), which pulls me out of the film. So much for it making for a more immersive experience. I'm still intrigued by the possibilities it offers to the human face though – there were some effective moments in Pi in which Lee frames faces against plain backgrounds (the sky, a hospital curtain), and thus, ironically, reduces the depth of the 3D frame. Somehow, it's almost these moments that work best…
In the evening I watched Tabu, which has some excellent compositions and contains a beautiful play of light…Murnau's idea of 'architectural cinematography' – based on dance and German paintings – excites me. Unfortunately I can't quite say the same about the story of Tabu, which didn't really grip me, even with its tragic (and moving) ending. It does have some interesting narrative and structural parallels with Murnau's other work though – contrary to Tony Rayn's assertion that Murnau was not an auteur, there seems to be much that recurs throughout his oeuvre. There's a letter from Murnau reproduced in the booklet which implies a deep seated loneliness and rootlessness, a feeling of not fitting in. Taken in this light, his films can, in some respects, be seen as stories about the search for a home, for acceptance, and for love (the search often being represented by a literal journey).
Elina came around to show me The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I enjoyed the colours and the stylisation (the artificiality) of the world it constructed, as well as the melodrama of the story. But the music was awful.
Watched Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which was far too overdone for my taste – stylised to the point of silliness (and, what's worse, ugliness – there's no fun to be had here). Even the jokes fall so flat they barely register as the film stumbles over them. Truly terrible.