Thursday, 29 August 2013

Factotum


Factotum is an adaptation of the novel with the same name by American writer Charles Bukowski. We embark on a journey of Matt Dillon portraying the alto ego of Bukowski’s heartbreakingly humorous, quirky and melancholic life of depressive writer Hank Chinaski. A man with many jobs, Factotum follows the womanizing alcoholic Chinaski. A man who can’t seem to hold down any job, Chinaski narrates his life and wisdom through the voice over narrations. A struggling writer who can only support himself with a sequence of minimum waged paid jobs, none of which he can hold down. Iceman, pickle factory worker, bike inventory manager these jobs all blur together into a miasma of supercilious bosses, smoking and drinking on the job and the constant phrase of “Mr Chinaski, you're fired”.


Chinaski has so much character that the entire drive of the film is solely on the voice over narration of Chinaski. The stories and poems Chinaski writes and narrates in film are actually Charles Bukowski published shorts and poems. The voice overs are a remarkable visual description of Chinaski inner self, very similar to Bukowski’s writing. Factotum is a great insight into the semi-biographical life of Bukowski. With such a melancholic and miserable character it’s so bizarre that Chinaski makes it an amusing story to watch; leaving work early to gamble at the horse track and never taking responsibility for his actions. It seems Chinaski’s only love in life is to write his thoughts on the world and the people he encounters.


Factotum is not just about a man that follows the life of poverty to remain humble. Factotum embarks on a journey of a writer who is trapped in a creative ambition. Chinaski is a man that is presented to be a no body but rather has more wisdom on the philosophy of life than Aristotle or Plato. What a world Chinaski shows us, a life of alcoholism, touring the bars from one state to another and all the pathetic people with interesting stories but most often having lived boring lives. Just like the book with Bukowski’s words, Henri Chinaski’s voice over narrations narrates his existence with pristine clarity, the fascinating story of a man who decides to live poor so he can write.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Unbreakable


Bruce Willis portrays a security guard called David Dunn from Philadelphia. On a return train trip back from New York his train derails causing a catastrophic accident, with him as the only survivor and miraculously emerging unscratched. A seemingly blessed individual or just extremely lucky his escape from the wrecked catches the eye of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a wealthy comic book art dealer. Since birth Elijah has been a victim to an extremely rare bone disease that causes his bones to break easily, resulting in his class peers as a child giving him the nick name Mr Glass. Elijah has an unnerving theory that David’s survival was not just a miraculous escape but rather he has supernatural powers. Just like Elijah’s comic heroes, David has been put on Earth to conquer evil.


Unbreakable is a film from start to end that utilizes comic book imagery. The director and writer M. Night Shyamalan uses countless comic book metaphors to create David Dunn’s character from an emotional broken security guard to a superhero. David’s football stadium security guard raincoat slowly becomes the cape and the realisation of his incredible strength and unbreakable body is only the beginning of a new rescuer voyage.  One of the most joyful thoughts of watching Unbreakable is how carefully everything is unravelled to the audience. Every tiny feature between David and Elijah has a deeper and more significant meaning.  David’s depression and constant feeling of emptiness is actually him not embracing the superhero within. Elijah’s nick name “Mr Glass” is a combination of New Age zealot and crippled mastermind whose comic art gallery is a metaphor of his secret lair.


What drives Unbreakable is the relationship between Elijah and David and how both of them have very similar lives. The most terrifying thought between them both was not knowing their place in this world and that both characters needed each other to discover their true purpose. David needed Elijah to show him the road to self-actualization and coming to turns with his past, paving the way for his future. Understanding finally who David is and will become, Elijah now knows who he is and it is not until the end that we finally discover that David and Elijah roles are actually opposing forces between good and evil.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Man From Nowhere


A mysterious and recluse pawnshop owner Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won) forges a bond with a young neglected neighbour Jeong So-mi (Sae-ron Kim). Jeon So-mi's mother crosses paths with a feared and brutal gang which in result leads the young So-mi being kidnaped. The recluse and mysterious pawnshop owner embarks on a knife stabbing and gun shooting endeavour to rescue his only friend. However as the journey of revenge embarks he discovers that the gang is in a gruesome business of child trafficking, child slavery, illegal organ trafficking, drug manufacturing and distribution.


Nothing is better than watching a film that totally caught you off guard and left your mind blown. The Man from Nowhere is a particular film that ranks number one as a “Holy crap this movie is freaking awesome”. From the look from of the trailers my initial opinion of this film was honestly a South Korean Die Hard action movie. The choreography is a fantastic combination of the fast pace hand to hand combat from Chia-Liang Liu’s 1994 The Legend of Drunken Master and grittily violent of Louis Leterrier 2005 Unleashed. Yet just as we think the action and violence cannot get even more gruesome, we see a gruesome death to a villain that really did deserve that slow and painful death. Yet even through all the madness and chaos of an endeavour of punishing violence, spectacular fight and chase sequences, the intensity of The Man From Nowhere shows no bounds. Watching Man From Nowhere is yet again proof that once again Korean Cinema has set the bar to a new high with astonishing vigour and inventiveness.


The Man from Nowhere takes the action and violence everywhere imaginable. To the tight bathroom cubicle that gives a fantastic squeezing tension to the vast empty luxurious office space. The fight sequences and choreography is almost as if it is out of The Matrix or Equilibrium. We witness a fantastic and brutal amalgamation of; gritty hand to hand, gun kata and many gruesome knife fights.


Monday, 19 August 2013

The Talented Mr Ripley


He is the mysterious, lonely, troubled, confused, gifted, tender, sensitive, haunted, yearning, intellectual, passionate and talented Mr Ripley. Set in the late 50’s the young blond underachiever Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is sent to Italy to retrieve a spoiled millionaire playboy named Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law). However, captivated by the charm of Dickie and the lush lifestyle that he shares with his beautiful girlfriend, Ripley embraces the posh existence. However all good things comes to an end but Tom will stop at nothing to hold onto the new found life.


Watching the bright and charming psychopath manoeuvre his way from a life of poverty to a grand life of jazz, fine food and wine is a perfect ingredient to the psychological thriller genre. The captivating and unsettling performance of Matt Damon shows us the dark twisted Tom Ripley lust for a better life. The constant lies of his life give us little knowledge of who Tom really is and where he actually comes from. All that is known is he is an excellent pianist, has an eye for fame and has the talent of becoming someone else. Impersonating other people and forging their handwriting. Tom can even talk like the person he wants to be. His soul purpose in life is to become a somebody rather than remain a nobody. He lives by a code of “It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody”. The most troubling feature that we witness Tom constantly do is his disturbing gaze at Dickie. Maybe its admiration or maybe it is love? But as the film slowly creeps away from the glossy beaches of the Italian coast and its luxurious lifestyles, the gazes become more and more murderous.


Anthony Minghella vision embraced the existence of a millionaire’s spoiled heir. When Tom and Dickie meet the plot seems to become a narrative about Tom falling in love with Dickie. But we are than taken to a journey of envy and obsession. Minghella drives the plot from a thriller to a phycological thriller when Tom decides he would rather be Dickie Greenleaf. Rather than go back to the damp basement apartment in New York to a life of poverty, Ripley precipitately kills Dickie and takes his identity. A game of cat and mouse presents itself when Tom has to constantly change his identity to keep the illusion that Dickie is still alive.


How far could someone go to become somebody else is the question that lingers around The Talented Mr Ripley. Tom Ripley is a sympathetic psychopath that we can’t help but gravitate towards and subconsciously want him to get gateway. The Talented Mr Ripley is a dominant thriller that seamlessly grows into eerie suspense.



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I'm Still Here


At the time of the release audiences had no idea if I'm Still Here was documentary or mockumentary. It was revealed that the documentary was actually a mockumentary after the director Casey Affleck said it was a prank. Joaquin Phoenix promoted his mockumentary at the return of the Late Show clean shaven and well-dressed. The big fuzzy beard and black Ray Ban’s was all a hoax. Fooled from the beginning or always knew it was a hoax, I'm Still Here is a fascinating and brilliant insight into the suicide career journey of Oscar-nominated Walk the Line star Joaquin Phoenix. This mockumentary raises the fascinating questions into the celebrity culture and how we the audience cannot get enough of celebrities destroying their careers.


Casey Affleck’s fly one the wall mockumentary is not just about following Joaquin Phoenix career change into hip hop. But rather we follow Joaquin Phoenix destroy his career and willingly watch his sanity drop into a spiral decent into madness. I’m Still Here is a brilliant modern art experiment of we the viewers and audiences  love to see celebrities like Britney Spears or Charlie Sheen lose their mind. The media fuels our lust by interviewing these people willingly knowing that they’re going to do or say something insane. Britney Spears shaves her hair off and a drug fuelled Charley Sheen drinks tiger blood. Watching Phoenix openly snort cocaine, order call girls off the internet, treat his assistants abusively and have sex with hookers is a fascinating performance that helps fuel the illusion that this actor has gone insane.


Even before the release of I’m Still Here in 2010 Joaquin Phoenix decided to appear on Late Show with David Letterman to promote his rap debut in January in 2009. His bizarre appearance of hiding his green eyes with black Ray Ban’s, itching his thick long beard and constantly fidgeting in his suit was the most talked about interview of that year. This helped fuel the hoax that the actor had finally lost the plot.


I’m Still Here is defiantly a brilliant mockumentary of Joaquin Phoenix career transformation from acting to rapping but an even more fantastic and fascinating documentary of celebrities journey in media frenzy madness. Casey Affleck creates both a funny atmospheres to a tragic story that leads to some shocking moments that involves snorting cocaine and ordering female escorts online. This is honestly one of Joaquin Phoenix underrated best performances.