In this fantastically tense drama Tom Hanks plays Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama container ship – which was hijacked in 2009 whilst sailing off the coast of Somalia. The vessel was boarded by a small band of Somali pirates who were hoping to ransom the ship and her crew of twenty. However things didn’t go quite according to plan, and the pirates found themselves stranded on a lifeboat along with Captain Phillips as a hostage.
Once upon a time, many moons ago, Westerns ruled cinema. Despite various recent attempts, it does not look like they will be back; modern audiences have moved on. RED RIVER shows us just what a shame this is, as we are losing a great setting for fantastic drama and character work.
One of the major failings of modern British TV sketch comedies has been the over-reliance on reoccurring characters, and the simple repeated catchphrase to raise to laughs. It under estimates the viewer’s intelligence and stifles the writer’s ability to (or demonstrates the lack of the ability to) create new fresh and properly formed jokes and concepts time and time again.
Not that fully formed reoccurring characters and worlds cannot work in the sketch format – think Pete and Dud’s so-called Dagenham Dialogues. Works of genius and some of the most memorable and acclaimed British TV comedy ever.
Sotaru lives in a Government-built estate in Japan. After a life-changing event in his early years, he develops an unassailable fear of leaving the housing estate. As he goes through school, puberty and work his friend’s leave, relationships come and go and yet he still cannot bring himself to leave.
The third of my pieces on Lars von Trier’s films brings his ‘Europe Trilogy’ to an end with EUROPA.
First we had THE ELEMENT OF CRIME, in which our protagonist Fisher is going back through his memories of hunting a criminal through a broken Europe.
Then we had EPIDEMIC, which ended with an actress being hypnotised and going hysterical. This film also brought various levels of reality and fiction being superimposed over one another, before crashing them all together and making the audience question my relationship with cinema and reality.
In EUROPA, it is the audience that is being hypnotised. From the very opening shot of train tracks, in which we are directly addressed and told to enter the film – to enter EUROPA. It is a perfect introduction to a film about a night train conductor, and not only pulls us in as commanded, but sets the tone of tired, late travel with the monotony of train tracks and a cold, threatening feel. This narrative voice will recur throughout the film, speaking to us. It directs us through the film, yet also pulls us out and back to our film-watching reality. The effect is that the characters and themes are brought out with us; lending the stylised and heavily atmospheric film a real context in our history that would be a step further away were we all getting lost in the story.
First, an apology that it’s taking me so long to write blog posts generally, and to get through the Lars von Trier collection in particular. As always, work is keeping me busy, but also it seems that I’ll need to watch each von Trier film at least twice.
This is his second feature, following on from THE ELEMENT OF CRIME. On my first viewing, EPIDEMIC seems like a very different beast altogether, and it didn’t grip me at all. It seemed to have nothing in common with his previous film, which I really enjoyed.
Essentially, we have a film within a film. We join Lars von Trier playing himself, along with script writer Niels Vørsel (also playing himself) after a screenplay for ‘The Cop and the Whore’ is destroyed accidentally. They have to create a new film outline from scratch, which becomes EPIDEMIC. We see snatches of this film-within-the-film through von Trier’s imagination, in which he plays the protagonist doctor himself.
This review will have to begin where all other ELYSIUM reviews have; DISTRICT 9. Please don’t take this as a lack of respect for Neil Blomkamp’s newest film, but a sign of the love everyone has for the first.
DISTRICT 9 was a breath of fresh air. It was new, it was fresh, and it was nasty. For a science fiction fan like myself, it was invigorating to watch. DISTRICT 9 had a sense of realism and world-building like few other films. It made it’s social points without being heavy, fed us a diet of exciting action scenes and introduced us to Sharlto Copley who made an instant impression (1).
All of this is, of course, why ELYSIUM has so much on it’s shoulders. It’s okay, though, because those shoulders are strengthened by a mark-3 exoskeleton.
When a new monster movie is released, I pay attention. I’ve grown up watching GODZILLA, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS and most other ‘kaiju’ films. I love them. I love the cheesy dialogue, and the big fight scenes. I appreciate the good effects, and enjoy the bad effects equally. Seriously, this is one of my favourite genres.
So, you can imagine my excitement and horrendous fear at going in to watch PACIFIC RIM.
Who is Harry Grey?
This is the question that drives Lars von Trier’s 1984 feature, THE ELEMENT OF CRIME. Fisher (Michael Elphick) is a detective called back to Europe after 12 years in Cairo to hunt down Harry Grey, who is suspected of committing a series of murders.
Told via a hypnosis ‘flashback’, the film is essentially one long dream sequence, which allows the narrative to be lose and the imagery strong.
HAPPY TOGETHER is another classic that the festival gave me a chance to watch on the big screen (Note 1). Set in Buenos Aries, it’s the story of two lovers on a journey, a story of the city and a story of growing up. It is, I would expect, the only Hong Kong gay film set in South America. I could be wrong about this, of course, I am only a new student of Asian cinema.