Tuesday, 30 October 2012

JCVD

JCVD is not just about a comedy/drama post office heist job that he stumbles into in mid-progress. Playing himself we don’t see the young; Universal Soldier, Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Legionnaire. We see an ageing actor whose films have gone straight to DVD, losing custody of his daughter and not getting the lead roles that he so desires. JCVD in some way is a semi-autobiographical look into Jean Claude’s personal life set in a fictional scenario of a post office heist that turns into a hostage situation that he gets the blame for. JCVD truly is a fascinating personal insight into Jean Claude Van Damme and his performance in JCVD is genuinely not acting any more but instead he’s pouring his heart out. We don’t see our beloved ass kicking action hero in JCVD but we see a self-loathing man that I grew up to believe was the world’s most dangerous man alive today. JCVD shows instead of a man who is “wasted mentally and physically”.
One of the most grippingly chilling raw scenes in JCVD is when Van Damme breaks the fourth wall and begins to confess to the audience how Van Damme himself had to fight his own battles within. Explaining how before he stood by and live as a peaceful warrior. Learning karate and Dojo he lived by the samurai code “Oss” but living in the US, focusing on movies and living the star dream of fancy hotels, hanging out beautiful models and earning millions. In the end he truly regretted having his dream come true “You made my dream come true. I asked for it.” But the biggest disappointment for himself was he never did live up to his own promise. Van Damme became a living lie of his own philosophical code. The topic of his drug addiction comes into play. Discussing how having everything he ever dreamt of as a thirteen year old boy wanting to be a star. Travelling the world, staying at countless hotels and living in a penthouse there’s always something more and so he tried it and got hooked. Our “Van-Damme, the beast, the tiger in a cage, the "Bloodsport" man got hooked”.
JCVD is truly an open book to a confession of man who is just emotional exhausted and is just throwing in the towel. Whenever I watch a Van Damme film I personally see his films as a unique genre of his own.  Of course Van Damme films were always typical cliché actions fighting films of him getting revenge on a fallen brother or friend. For decades Van Damme’s films went straight to DVD but the performance in JCVD gave him a worldwide cinematic release and boosted our kickboxer to a new emotional level that he needed to give such a captivating show.  Even though Van Damme has been acting for years I personal feel that that JCVD has now put him on the map for a bigger and higher budget films like our other beloved action hero’s Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Beginners



Mike Mills Beginners is a story about the consciousness memoires of Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his journey of love with Anna (Mélanie Laurent). This new found love enters Oliver’s life only months after his father’s death Hal ((Christopher Plummer) who came out of the closet to his son right after his mother’s death. At the age of 75, Hal now lives a full gay lifestyle with his new much younger partner Andy (Goran Visnjic). Embracing a new life with new friends Hal and Oliver become much closer than ever before. Showing Oliver his joyous gay life, Oliver learns from his farther the joys of life and love. Inspired by his father’s attitude to life, Oliver now builds the courage to pursue his new found love endeavouring into a journey of beautiful humour and honesty.

What I enjoyed most of Beginners is the pure, raw and human emotions that each character and including a Jack Russell Terrier? gives to the audience. At the start of Beginners we are introduced to a grief ridden Oliver who is reflecting on his farther. We see a very isolated man who only accompanies himself with his father’s dog Arthur who is also in some way grieving. The two of them are a perfect example of one and other; Arthur refuses to interact with other dogs and stays with Oliver and Oliver also unable to connect with anyone and his art work becomes increasingly depressing focusing his work on “The evolution of sadness”. Whenever Oliver remembers any moment the film interconnects with flashbacks of that moment. With these flashbacks Beginners takes us through two stages; the past and present. The past being moments with his father and the present with Anna. Each two connect in ways to help Oliver make the right choices with Anna avoiding another failed relationship that constantly seems to haunt Oliver.


I'm not a sucker for a typical love film but the first encounter with Anna at a dress up party; personally I found it genuinely beautiful and perfect in every way that it can honestly be true and almost wish it would be. Dressed as Freud and accompanied by Arthur Oliver only connects with other party goers by setting up a mock therapy session and taking in patient like the Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz. Anna checks herself in as a patient who cannot speak due to laryngitis and communicates by writing in her notepad. Writing in her notepad “Why did you come to a party when you are so sad?  Anna sees through Freud and finds an unhappy Oliver. The two begin to connect and even leave the party to a hotdog stand that leads to Anna’s Hotel room who still hasn't said a single word.


What I admired most in Beginners is the humble soundtrack that really does bring characters and the audience closer. Mike Mills Beginners is wonderful film that shows a journey of Oliver struggle with love but with his father’s new found happiness and inspiring him drives Oliver himself to make his new found love last. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Taxi Driver Analysis



The only parts of New York we are subjected to are the back streets of New York. In most films we’re always taken around the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. In Taxi Driver we’re constantly driven around the more dangerous and crime ridden areas. With Travis relentlessly exposed to these areas his view on New York repulsion. “I think someone should just take this city and just... just flush it down the fuckin' toilet.” In most New York films the cinematography is always typically the same; bird’s eye view shots looking down the busy streets of New York,  low angle shots looking upwards to monstrous like building over shadowing the people and the glamorous typical locations of Times Square and Broadway. Through the cinematography we only truly see New York through the taxi cab passing by. The New York we see in Taxi Driver is the cheap shady bars, strip clubs, 24 hour liquor stores and adult movie cinemas. Of course the people we see are the typical crowd that hang out in these areas; street hookers, pimps, drug addicts and alcoholics. All these elements help fuel the illusion for the projection of Travis’s mind. What Travis sees if what the audience sees and what Travis feels is what the audience will feel. All the mise-en-scene and cinematography that Martin Scorsese uses are all an external projections of Travis’s mind. Through Travis’s mind we are taken through New York on his perception of what New York is and we see his sanity slowly slip with the inner monolog.

Too get a better understanding of who is Travis we have to look at the; emotional physiological and physical journey he undertakes in this film. Suffering from insomnia there’s a persistent feeling of been wide awake and charged. Every time Travis takes medication there’s always a Non-diegetic sound. In the taxi carriage scene when Travis takes his medication both inside the cab and out there’s an electric charge in the background. Both times Travis’s actions give the impression that he is being filled with adrenaline and almost as is he being recharged. The second time he takes his medication is in the café. This scene creates a misconception that Travis’s brain is being almost vaporized. When Travis puts the tablet in the glass he begins to bizarrely stare at the glass as if he’s been memorized. The dissolving tablet in the glass is a perfect visual example of Travis’s inner mind slowly loosing grip in reality. As Travis slowly becomes more delusional the atmosphere of Taxi Driver begins to questions what is real and a figment of Travis’s imagination. To help fuel the illusion of Travis’s imagination the use of colour is heavily over whelming in particular scenes. The red, amber and green of traffic lights or the flashing lights from the bars and clubs are a fantastic visual expression of Travis’s moods.To show more isolation and distance from people, the framing on Travis’s always seemed to make him the centre of the screen. Walking around the streets of New York or in the R rated movie theatre people always seem to stay away from Travis and keep their distance. We see all kinds of people that represent different class status of New York; Pimps represents the womanising dead beats, the prostitutes are a representation of sex, drug addicts are the corrupted and men in businesses suits that look they work in Wall street are almost the yuppie culture. 


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Joshua



Starring Cyrus Trafford as an individual who seems to be at the norm but however within this man we see an obsession that turns monstrous. Tim Porter takes us on a journey of Joshua who has to endure his darkest desire in solitude and isolation. Through Joshua we see the everyday temptations he has to overcome and avoid. But the constant urge soon takes over and we see the monster within unleashed. A subject that is greatly avoided and seen as taboo in cinema, Porter’s vision has no bound for any topic. Porter courageously explores the forbidden desire of the human yearning. A thrillingly suspenseful horror, Joshua takes us into the mind of a man slowly losing his grip of sanity. Captivated through Joshua’s inner mono-log  we see first at hand how the mind of Joshua contemplates. Stunningly shot we’re subjected to colour tempering that sets the frame of mind. The cinematography is beautifully lit up and shot but we’re constantly snapped back to Joshua’s mind with an obscure black and white theme. Watching Joshua it’s almost as if Porter combined Martin Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver to Nicole Kassell’s 2005 powerful and thrilling drama The Woodsman.


Watching Joshua there’s always an unsettling feeling of tension that fills the screen. Cyrus’s performance as Joshua is compelling creepy and convincing as a man with an obsession that soon takes hold of him. Porter explores into dangerous territory but the execution of a man being torn apart by his own self-contempt. It’s a sensational view into the mind of a Joshua.  

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

There Will Be Blood



There Will Be Blood is a thrillingly dark film that explores the obsessed ambition of success that drives Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) a crazed irascible and paranoid oil pioneer. There Will Be Blood is not just a journey of money, greed and ambition of success but it also shows the slipping sanity of a man driven mad by triumph. With Lewis’s character there’s always a psychotic atmosphere that fills the air. Though he is seen to be at the norm his drive for success shows no bound. We see this ambition of success become more and more murderous. As Plainview is out done by the small California town of Little Boston preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) we see his mask of sanity slip away. Plainview and Sunday’s relationship is a fine example of how far Plainview would go to succeed. In order to seal the deal for Mr, Bandy’s farm, Plainview is blackmailed into joining the Church of the Third Revelation. Plainview is then humiliated by Eli as part of his initiation. In front of the towns people Eli is seen as a “prophet” and him slapping and making Plainview scream “I have abandoned my child!” again and again is seen as if he’s slapping the devil out of him when really Eli is just getting his own back. I find this scene one of the most powerful and significant moments of how far man is prepared to humiliate himself for his own gain.

I have abandoned my child!, I have abandoned my boy!
To really grasps who Daniel Plainview is you have to look into how sees everything and everyone around him. There’s an unceasing competition in Plainview that makes him a very cynical person. Seeing only the worst in people he wishes no one to succeed and his only true goal in life is to “earn enough money that I can get away from everyone.” We never truly see the real Plainview. He never lets his guard down and never shows his true face. Just like how the towns people see him we the audience see Plainview as an ambitious pioneer and a family man who uses his son H.W. Plainview (Dillon Freasier) as means of gaining peoples trust. When he is encountered by a man claiming to be his half-brother Henry (Kevin J. O’Connor) Plainview assumes that his brother is just like him. Realizing that Henry has no ambition and is nothing like him Plainview discovers that Henry is an imposter and is actually a friend of the real Henry who died long ago from tuberculosis. In a fit of rage Plainview kills the imposter. One can argue that Plainview killed the imposter out of spite, tricking him to believe that he was his half-brother. But I like to think that he killed Henry because his constant hate to all human beings and that he can never really trust anyone. Plainview finally had someone to lean on and maybe relate to “to have you here gives me a second breath. I can't keep doing this on my own with these... people.”

I See the worst in people