Tag Archives: Stanley Kubrick

Interstellar (2014)

8 Nov

Interstellar marks acclaimed director Christopher Nolan‘s 9th feature film, and the first after his hotly anticipated conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy in 2012. Over the course of his career, Nolan has made a reputation for delivering intellectually puzzling blockbuster pictures and Interstellar might be his brainiest and most puzzling film yet.

The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Coop, a rural corn farmer and father of two children. Corn is one of the few crops that can be grown because sometime in the near future, a global dust storm wipes out nearly all forms of agriculture. Coop is an incredibly scientific man, quick to disregard his daughters complaints of a paranormal presence because it offers no scientific explanation. A strange series of events – some in connection with this “ghost” and others pure happenstance – enables Coop and his daughter Murphy to stumble across an opportunity for space exploration as a last result attempt to save the human race from extinction.

If that description sounds a bit loaded, thats because it is. And we haven’t even finished the first act yet. Things quickly go from a family drama to a graduate metaphysics theory to Gravity-esc space survival to alternate dimension weirdness to time loops and then back to a family drama again. Nolan tries cramming in all sorts of ideas and concepts into a hefty 169 min runtime. Quantum physics, gravity pulls, beings from another galaxy, time anomalies, human evolution, singularities – it’s enough to make your head spin. Thankfully we have Anne Hathaway‘s character Amelia (in a similar fashion to Ellen Page‘s character from Inception) providing exposition to guide us through the this tangled mess of wormholes, black holes and plot holes.

The main problem with Interstellar is that Nolan assumes his audience is smart enough to grasp complex concepts about the nature of time and space, but somehow stupid enough not see bad writing when it stares us in the face.

The script is pretty much passable, and at sometimes, just outright bad. Same goes for many of the film’s performances. Nolan has never been a great dramatic director, but he gets the job done here with the help of an ensemble cast including Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn and an actor I won’t mention for sake of surprise.

However, the flaws of Interstellar are relatively minor compared to its epic aspirations or its technical brilliance. Beautifully shot in 70mm, Interstellar looks amazing, and is sure to deliver on terms of sheer spectacle. There is some jaw-dropping scenes of space/time travel and the score by Hans Zimmer and incredible sound design make viewing the film a pleasurable and visceral journey.

While the film certainly is too ambitious for it’s own good, I would rather see a film take gargantuan risks and (slightly) fail than I would see a film play it safe. Especially when it comes to the epic budget and scope of a canvas that Nolan was given to work with here.

What it really comes down to is this: Christopher Nolan’s dreams are as big as those portrayed in Inception, and seeing his vision unfold in such a grand manner is a delight.

Rating 7/10

Similar to: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Prometheus (2012), Gravity (2013) 

Enemy (2014)

5 Jun

Filmed before but released after 2013’s breakout thriller Prisoners and also starring Jake Gyllenhaal, director Denis Villeneuve takes the road of the arthouse in his new film EnemyBased on a similar premise to this year’s fantastic comedy The Double, Enemy focuses on one man who comes across what appears to be his exact copy.  Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a university professor who spends his days teaching history and his nights with his lover Mary (Melanie Laurent).  His life is one of repetition; a cycle of rhythms  consisting of school, food and sex. His cyclical and comfortable lifestyle is interrupted when a coworker recommends a film that has an exact lookalike as Adam in the background. We soon find out this actor is named Anthony (who is also played by Gyllenhaal), and he curiously doesn’t live too far from where Adam works. The rest of the film becomes a hazy mess of events that spiral out through the interactions between Anthony the actor and Adam the spectator, and eventually concludes with a complex examination of the duality inherent in everyone.

Enemy is a dark, cryptic, and brooding film that relies heavily on atmosphere and tone. Lying somewhere in between the styles of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg, Villeneuve makes incredible use of lighting, music, and color to give us a mysterious and puzzling look into the lives of these duplicate characters.  The film becomes a sort of Freudian gaze into the subconscious when Gyllenhaal’s two characters each try to manipulate each other and each other’s woman. Wrought symbolism, tension, and the ongoing threat of violence, Enemy is not your everyday film, and many people will be frustrated by the film’s lack of focus on plot and character. I think the film has more to say that it initially lets on however, and multiple viewings and discussions will prove to be useful.  Enemy is an artful delight filled with various puzzles and meanings, and while it might prove to be too complex for some, it’s still provocatively thoughtful in its execution.

Rating 9/10 

Similar to: Mulholland Drive, Cosmopolis, Under The Skin

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The Loved Ones (2009), The Warriors (1979), Thirst (2009), Lolita (1962)

20 Feb

I’m going to try and update this thing more regularly, even if it’s just a quickie review of something I have seen recently.

I’m also going to try and talk about classics as well as some of the newer stuff I get my hands on.

What I have been enjoying this past week:

The Loved Ones (2009)

– Holy smokes. what a twisted movie. It is not everyday you see a teen horror film that is so chilling, disgusting and fun.  After seeing last year’s Snowtown, I know for certainty that when it comes to the disturbing and macabre, Australians do it best. While it has it’s cliche’ moments and becomes a bit predictable, there are enough twists and WTF moments to make this stand out among others of the genre.

Similar to: Hostel,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Snowtown

Rating: 6/10 

The Warriors (1979) 

– I finally got around to seeing this cult classic and, while it is a bit slow at first, The Warriors was an overly entertaining and satisfying movie. The stylized story about gangs in a post-modern NYC goes places I wasn’t expecting and the ending was fantastic. Also a huge fan of the film’s score and wonderful costumes.

Similar to: A Clockwork Orange, Brick, 

Rating: 7/10

Thirst (2009) 

I absolutely loved this movie.  Park Chan-wook is no doubt one of the best directors working today, and he demonstrates his knowledge and passion for filmmaking perfectly in Thirst.  The story revolves around a priest-turned-vampire who is desperately trying to tame his appetite for bloodshed while at the same time helping a family in need. The film is incredibly unpredictable and beautifully shot. If the thought of blood grosses you out, you are better off avoiding this entirely, but if you have a thirst for the dark and disturbing – of if your tired of seeing the same old vampire movie – give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Similar to: Let The Right One In,  Oldboy,

Rating: 8/10 

Lolita (1962) 

Finally managed to see Stanley Kubrick‘s iconic romance story about a man who falls for his landlord’s daughter.  Lolita is a superbly-writted drama and overall great film (but with a mastermind like Kubrick, what can you expect?).  The performances felt real and the characters are complex and interesting. Though it clocks in at over 2 hours the film never drags and you become immersed in the riske’ relationship between our protagonists.  I couldn’t help but thinking the entire time “how did they get away with filming this in 1962?”

Simmilar to: Eyes Wide Shut,  The Apartment, The Graduate 

Rating: 9/10 

so thats that. Any recommendations you have let me know! 🙂