Category: Films

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    Heat

    Finally watched this film for the first time and I absolutely loved it to bits.

    As I sat there sweating through the UK heatwave — my apartment being three or four degrees higher — I became lost in this world of LA.

    It goes without saying that Al Pacino and Robert Deniro are at the top of their games in this film, but i’m gonna say it anyway…

    …they are both so fucking great. As are all the other performances throughout.

    It’s one of those films that has been on my radar for so long but just never got round to watching it. Everyone I’d heard mention it had always said it was awesome — they were all right.

    Deniro’s character brought a certain intensity throughout for me — his straight line, get the job done attitude is infectious.

    And Pacino does what he does best. His seemingly-random outbursts of animation were such a joy to see. I found myself laughing — but out of shear enjoyment of his performance. He has a way about him that just captures my attention with ease.

    Mark and Jezz in Peep Show pretend to watch Heat whilst at a theatre show

    Deniro’s and Pacino’s characters are two sides to the same coin. Both representing the opposing forces of law and criminal. I found myself rooting for both of them right till the end. Neither is completely “good” and neither is at all “evil”.

    Besides hearing Heat mentioned in one of my favourite TV shows, Peep show (see image above), what actually tipped me into actually sitting for the 2 hour 50 minute runtime was a clip of Tom Hiddleston on the Graham Norton show.

    The clip featured Tom appearing with 3 other actors, all there for different reasons, but was sharing the guest sofa with no other than Robert Deniro. Tom was talking with admiration about Deniro in Heat — and in one scene in particular.

    The scene was the infamous coffee shop scene in which Deniro and Pacino enjoy their first ever on-screen appearance.

    When I finally got to the scene myself I saw where that admiration was coming from.

    One of the most conflicting moments for me came right near the end.

    There is a chance for Deniro to get away and begin a fresh life, and I was really praying he would. However, I equally wanted him to finish off one piece of unfinished business — with a particularly nasty character.

    There’s a moment where he’s driving and you can feel the conflict within him. Deciding desperately which path he should take. And I think he already knows the outcome of both paths before he chooses.

    I wont spoil that moment for you here, but I do urge you strongly to watch this. It’s an incredible film.


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    Thoughts on The people under the stairs

    I finally faced my childhood trauma by watching The people under the stairs in full. I saw sections of it as a child and remember only the image of children running from something in the wall cavities of a old creepy house.

    It was an absolute surprise and joy to see Everett McGill and Wendy Robie as an on-screen couple again after their iconic partnership in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks as Ed and Nadine Hurley.

    Credited as simply ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ respectively, the pair live in a large fortified house just outside of a Los Angeles Ghetto. That Ghetto is pretty much owned in full by the couple — land and property bought and passed on through the years to subsequent generations of the family.

    The couple are Land lords to many in the neighbourhood, but specifically a family struggling to pay the bills due to abject poverty and family illness. The story kicks off when the poor family’s young son, nicknamed ‘Fool’, is used by a criminal friend of the family to help break into the rich couple’s house. They do this to try and find a rumoured collection of gold coins that have been hoarded there.

    What follows is them all trapped in the house with no escape, running and hiding from the sadistic couple armed to the teeth and commanding a large, vicious dog. Not only that, but they must also content with the people under the stairs.


    The things I found most scary this time around were not necessarily the chases through the walls or the basement encounters, although they were often tense. What I found myself finding most horrific was how these crazed parents treated their daughter Alice.

    Alice lives under a constant cloud of threatened, and often enacted, abuse. Later we even see her slammed on to the floor to clean the blood-drenched wooden flooring of the house. And then soon after being force-cleaned by her mother in a visibly-scolding deep bath of water.

    How this film went from comedic moments of joy to horrific moments of torture and mutilation was all but expertly done. Despite having so much to offer in terms of tone, it never felt jarring. It was a roller coaster that just kept throwing in loop-da-loops and sharp left turns.


    Mcgill and Robie were incredible as the crazed couple hunting for the blood of the intruders whilst trying to keep their current captives under control. And then there is the illusive thing living in their walls.

    Oh, and their dog is bloody terrifying.

    I loved them both in Twin Peaks. The people under the stairs made me love them even more.

    Equally as impressive was the actor playing Fool — Brandon Adams. He had great charisma on screen and his character really kicked ass and held his own against the lunatics.

    Fool would often fight back against his pursuers and never made any dumb decisions to merely serve the plot.

    He sure is one smart cookie.


    I’m actually proud of myself for clocking the satirical take on the nature of capitalism throughout the film too. Maybe all of this writing and thinking a bit more about the films I watch is having an affect on me?

    I enjoyed this film so much, and for many different reasons. I really can’t recommend it enough.


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    Thoughts on Friday the 13th part 2

    The second film in the Friday the 13th series and first appearance of Jason.

    I absolutely loved this film.

    I found myself constantly second guessing what was going to happen next.

    Apart from being an entertaining and very 80’s killing spree around the cursed area surrounding Camp Crystal Lake, I thought this was a really well made, and clever horror film.

    The opening scene was, for the lack of a better word, perfect. The sustained tension through the entire five to ten minute opening with the first film’s lone survivor almost gave me a stomach muscle ache i think.

    The camera direction was incredible in pointing my attention to places I was certain someone would appear from. Even the shower room POV shot — done Psycho style — ending in the lady all but winking to the camera to say to the audience “I know what you were thinking”, had me smiling to myself.

    Smiling and nerve-wracked all the way to the opening scene’s superb climax.

    One of the best opening scenes in a horror film I can remember seeing.


    The rest of the film was great from beginning to end too, with some great moments of tension throughout.

    There was even one particular death that I found myself second guessing again too. I wont say which, but after what I’d consider clever uses of misdirection up until now, I found myself assuming that a certain scene was going to be more drawn out and elaborate than it was.

    When in fact it couldn’t have been more straight forward and to the point. #BladeToTheFace

    As far as the killings go, this wasn’t as gory as I was expecting it to be. I think that maybe as this series is one of the bedrocks of slasher films, it has a level of infamy that can easily hype it up in the minds of those that haven’t yet seen it. Despite my saying that, I think that the level of violence in general will keep any horror fan salivating.

    One thing that did surprise me was that Jason felt much more human than I was expecting. In all of the references I had seen to him up till now, he is portrayed almost like a machine that can not be killed. Although saying that, there was an awesome scene as he is revealed in full for the first time — where he stands up from under a cover, towering over his next victim.

    A really imposing figure and one of my favourite scenes of the film.

    His ability to get back up after certain injuries seemed almost plausible here too. However, I am fully expecting his recoveries to get less and less plausible as I delve deeper into this series.


    I had to smile and grimace at times when either a couple would have sex or someone would say “I’ll be right back” — I was immediately reminded of a key scene from Wes Craven’s Scream, where a horror film nerd would describe these dangers and things to not do in a horror film. It seems that he was right.

    I had already enjoyed the first Friday the 13th film some time ago. And now that I have enjoyed this one even more, I am really looking forward to getting further into Jason’s world.

    Despite my expecting them to start degrading with originality over time, from what I’ve heard at least, I am really excited to be going on the ride for the first time.


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    The New York Ripper — My Thoughts

    The New York Ripper has been one of the most challenging films I’ve watched in recent times. It’s violence and sexuality are off the charts — all in all a cracking Giallo thriller.

    New York is being terrorised by a serial killer who seems hell-bent on cutting up young women, seemingly for some kind of sadistic sexual pleasure. And these acts of violence are put front and centre in your face. Every. Single. Time.

    The opening credits consisted only of the still image of the dog with the severed hand in his mouth that he’s just found in a bush. With this and the funky 70s television flavour soundtrack, it felt almost like a black comedy of sorts.

    I don’t know why I kept getting the vibes of a black comedy in this film. Perhaps it is the super over-the-top depictions of killing and the fact that the killer pretended to be a duck whilst murdering people.

    Screaming

    Quack quack quack

    Ducks… Yer… So, the killer begins quacking like a duck as they begin violently cutting open their victims. Stay with me though. At first it was kind of funny and a complete juxtaposition to what was going on on-screen.

    Quack quack…

    CUT — SLICE

    Quack quack quack…

    HACK — CHOP

    But as the film went on, that sound became bloody terrifying to me. Like a razor sharp shriek cutting straight into my brain. Walking down the canal feeding the ducks with my lady will never be the same again…

    I liked how there is actually a reason for that duck sound too (no — the killer is not a duck) and it is actually more of a grounded reason than I was thinking it would be.

    And when it comes to the identity of the killer, I found myself guessing right up until the point at which one of the characters clocked it. Yes I am a bit slow, but I think that Fulci did a great job at dropping red herrings here and there.

    Beauty in the killing

    Only after I wrote that heading did I realise how mental it sounds. Oh well, it’s staying. haha.

    I don’t often find any sort of pleasure out of people being killed in films — unless they have it coming of course — but I can appreciate a really stunning piece of cinematography from the violence. And this film has those throughout — and not always in relation to a death scene.

    Despite many of the scenes being so graphic — in both sex and violence — the director, Lucio Fulci, has created some incredible-looking sequences throughout his film, that just beg to be looked at again and again.

    The way in which he uses colour alone is incredible — most notably a scene with live sex performer Eva, as she is returning to her dressing room.

    I loved this section so much that I have included five none-spoiler screenshots of it here:

    Eva’s scene reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Specifically a hotel room scene in which a character is bathed in the neon green light of the hotel sign outside the window. This isn’t the first time I am reminded of Hitchcock’s work in a Giallo film either.

    Some of the scenes in New York Ripper reminded me heavily of a more modern film I’ve seen too — The Neon Demon. No doubt the director of that film, Nicolas Winding Refn, took heavy inspiration from the Giallo genre — something I am only just uncovering for myself in my new obsession.

    This scene from Fay’s train ride had some great set pieces in it too. The train itself and shortly after, the cinema:

    Fay rides the train

    Conclusion

    If you are feint of heart please do not watch The New York Ripper. It uses extreme close-ups of killings like my partner uses Ketchup: in large doses.

    However, if you dig over-the-top violent scenes with elements of beauty in films, then this could be right up your street.

    Despite my constant mention of violence and sex in this film, it does have a good story. A story quite typical in the world of slasher / giallo films I think: detective tries to track down violent serial killer as more killings unfold in more beautiful and dramatic ways.

    And although it shares so many Giallo characteristics, it is uniquely memorable in so many ways.


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    Thoughts on Phenomena

    The next film in my Giallo journey was Dario Argento’s Phenomena — arguably one of his best. Although, to be fair, I haven’t seen a bad Argento film yet.

    From it’s wide open start amongst the Swiss countryside — where a student girl misses her bus — to the claustrophopic, insane ending, this film had me hooked and anxious throughout.

    I thought that with Jennifer Connelly as the main star, along side Donald Pleasence, I would feel relatively safer than I have with previous GIallo films. I knew her mainly for the film she did the year following Phenomena: The Labyrinth. But how wrong I was.

    Phenomena — synopsis

    The film is about a young girl, Jennifer, who is sent to a Swiss girls school by her father. She already knew that she had an affinity with insects, but it is during her short stay at this school where her affinity grows stronger and stronger.

    In the area there is a serial killer who seems to be picking off the girls from the school. And after Jennifer witnesses something she shouldn’t have whilst sleep walking, she fears that she is next.

    In her travels she meets a local scientist — one who specialises in insects (very apt) — who she teams up with to try and track down this killer on the loose.

    The Soundtrack

    Phenomena’s soundtrack was partly done by Goblin, as with other films of Argentos’. And it is as awesome as you can imagine, (if you’ve seen films like Deep Red or Suspiria before). If you haven’t, then you are in for a real treat in experimental music.

    Joining Goblin, and some others, on this kick-ass soundtrack, is none other than Iron Maiden. Namely the song “Flash of the Blade” from their 1984 album “Powerslave”. One of my favourite Iron Maiden albums, and the first album of theirs that I bought coincidentally.

    The soundtrack does wonders for this film’s pacing. At one point I was anxious and nervous following these characters. But then when that crazy opening to “Flash of the Blade” came on, a huge smile took over my face. I found myself simultaneously foot-tapping to a great song i’d forgotten about, and worried for a woman’s life as she ran from a merciless killer.

    Jennifer from Phenomena

    Reminiscent of Hitchcock

    Alfred Hitchcock is a huge influence on so many film makers, especially the ones worth their salt in my opinion. Some directors make this more obvious than others in some of their films (and I don’t mean that negatively). One good example that springs to mind is the look and feel of Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear. I remember feeling that if Hitchcock was alive and made that film, it would be very similar aesthetically*. This was aided in no small way by employing Hitchcocks long-standing music maestro Bernard Herrmann.

    *Disclaimer: I’m not a film student so am probably talking absolute crap 😀

    Anyway, there is a scene in Phenomena where Jennifer is trying to track down the killers hideout using a very unconventional method — I’ll let you discover the method. But method aside, the entire bus ride she takes from the town centre out to the rolling swiss countryside hills was a complete callback for me to Torn Curtain — Hitchcock’s lesser-known, but no less incredible, political thriller film from 1966.

    Vera Brandt misses her bus

    In Summary

    This feels like the most accessible of Argento’s films I’ve watched up till this point. I mean, they have all been on Amazon Prime, but due to the use of more western actors who I’d known from previous films, this film felt that bit more familiar to me. Of course this is only from my own perspective. Also I often prefer not knowing any actors in these Giallo films — it somehow makes them feel more dangerous.

    That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Phenomena for every single moment of its almost-two-hour run time. One thing I’m noticing from Argento is that I am finding myself remembering so much from his films — due to so many of his scenes feeling so iconic.

    The violent pane-smashing opening, the unconventional vat of… stuff, and of course that scene with the chimpanzee (spoiler: the chimpanzee survives this crazy story**).

    **If I thought a Chimpanzee was going to be killed I probably wouldn’t watch it, so wanted to put your mind at ease there. 🙂

    Some stills from Phenomena


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    Thoughts on The Lighthouse

    The Lighthouse is a slow-burn descent into madness expertly portrayed by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.

    They play lighthouse keepers with the task of manning the lighthouse on a rock out at sea for four weeks. But their isolation and growing annoyances of the other, soon guide them down the path of madness.

    Directed by Robert Eggers, the man behind another favourite film of mine from recent years — The Witch.

    I found myself completely transfixed to these two people throughout the entirety of this film. From their initial landing on the island — passing their predecessors on the walk to their new, month-long home — up to the crazy final scenes that played out like some kind of demonic version of Alfred Hitchcock.

    While I’m not going to spoil anything here, what I will say is roughly what the film is about — very roughly.

    Pattinson and Defoe play two lighthouse keepers. Pattinson is new to the job and quiet initially, whilst Defoe plays an almost-caricature of a typical old sea-dog with many old tales and superstitions to impart.

    Their relationship is pretty intense throughout, as would be expected between boss and worker that also live together — especially in such a close and isolated proximity.

    I’ve lived and worked with a boss-like figure in the past and I can tell you for one that it can get pretty tense pretty fast if you’re not careful.

    They often argue and disagree, usually with Defoe coming out on top, but at times they let off steam by getting completely drunk and sing songs of old times in their drunken stupor.

    The film’s climax is one that I will be thinking about for days to come, I think. It has no hard explanation, at least not that I could tell. What it does have is a heart-pumping ending that leaves itself open to interpretation — complete with metaphor and Greek mythological imagery.

    Pattinson and Defoe

    I’d not seen Robert Pattinson in anything before, so didn’t know what to expect. Willem Dafoe, on the other hand, I had seen a few times and so was aware of him and his idiosyncrasies as an actor.

    What I found was that both of their performances were absolutely incredible. As I heard in a review after watching the film, this film displays the whole gamut of human emotions. We see both characters at their most powerful and their most vulnerable too, I would say. From the heights of joy in alcohol-fuelled excitement, to some moments of personal fantasy and depravity.

    Willem Dafoe’s Shakespearean, powerful monologues were absolutely hypnotic to watch — as were his eyes whilst he delivered said speeches. Lit up like someone would be at a campfire telling ghost stories — a piercing light shining from below and up against his intense expression. He became almost scary to see but I found myself unable to look away.

    I’d only heard about Robert Pattinson through knowing about his starring roles in the Twilight films, so that had coloured my perception of him if I’m honest (despite having never seen them). But all I can say is “wow”, based on his role in The Lighthouse. His descent into madness and the odd visions that he witnesses in the desolate, rocky surroundings, are pieces of cinema I wont forget in a hurry.

    Superstition and suspense

    The was a heavy air of suspense throughout the entire film, which for me didn’t really end until the very final shot. At times I felt like I was watching the love child film of both Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch.

    The film was presented in an old-style square frame as opposed to the typical widescreen format that we are used to nowadays. It was also shot completely in black and white. These two factors, along with the fucking incredible score by Mark Korven gave the story the added claustrophobia that the characters on screen were no-doubt facing themselves.

    And as for that score, it was intense, atmospheric and downright terrifying at times. That, coupled with the films overall great sound design, made for what I can’t help but feel will be one of the greatest auditory experiences I will experience in the cinema this year.

    It was just a shame that some dick in the row in front of me kept piping up to his mate with short sentences after some of the film’s big moments.

    In Conclusion

    What can I say other than this is a film that will treat all of your cinema-viewing senses to a real treat. The performances are incredible; the story itself is left up to you to interpret; and the atmosphere is one of constant isolation and sustained dread.

    I loved it from beginning to end and found myself enjoying the emotional journey that these two men were going on. The more I sit and think about it now afterwards, the more my mind is starting to think about the possible symbolism throughout the film. And the more I am starting to form my own interpretations of what I have seen tonight.

    Maybe I’ll write these interpretations into a separate post once I have some kind of coherent way of putting those thoughts together.

    If you enjoyed The Witch, to which this is a sort of spiritual companion, or are simply open to something very different from your regular cinema experience, then I can’t recommend The Lighthouse enough. If you can watch it for the first time at a cinema then you definitely should.


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    Thoughts on the film Joker

    –is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?

    Arthur Fleck speaking with his Social Worker

    Joker is a phenomenal film, released in 2019, that explores a possible origin story for Batman’s famous arch-nemesis.

    I can’t believe that I was sat right where I am now as I write this, considering not going to see Joker for my second time at the cinema. This film is absolutely stunning for so many reasons — some of wish I will try and put over to you here.

    Please note however, that this isn’t a typical “comic book film” — it’s so much more than that.

    I should also say that there are some spoilers ahead.

    A Stunning Performance

    Joaquin Phoenix is probably my favourite representative of the character of Joker that I’ve seen on screen. He isn’t playing a huge comic book, larger-than-life character. Instead he is playing a grounded human being, living in almost-poverty, dealing with a whole manner of uphill battles.

    At front and centre of his performance was the mental health issues that Arthur Fleck (later to become Joker) is dealing with throughout the film and his life. Joaquin’s portrayal of Fleck with these issues was incredible – I couldn’t help but imagine the amount of energy that this role must have taken day to day to get to what we see on screen. Nothing seems to be held back – even the look of his malnourished body from his weight loss for the role stands as a testament to his dedication here.

    What I found the most profound though, was the way that Joaquin managed to blend comedy and tragedy into the same performance, so naturally. I remember a key scene where his boss at the clown hire company calls him to see him, essentially blaming him for getting beat up by a gang of kids. Fleck forces himself to ‘put on a happy face’, which for a second is passable as such. But as the camera moves in closer, I could see and feel the anguish and anger building up in him. That one moment made him worthy of his 2020 oscar win for best actor, in my opinion.

    The Music is perfect

    I discovered a new instrument when hearing the soundtrack to Joker: the Halldorophone. The instrument is similar to a cello, I think. It is so haunting, so intense and so desolate-sounding, that it perfectly represented the mental isolation that Fleck experiences on the busy streets of Gotham City. The film’s composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir, has created a sound that managed to cut down to Fleck’s core and expose it to the audience.

    When I think about the score, I go straight to a bathroom scene where Fleck slow dances by himself having just killed the three suits on the subway. The way that the instrument filled the cinema as Fleck seemed to be slipping into something a lot more comfortable, mentally speaking, created a single moment in cinema that I will never forget.

    Arthur begins to fit into his emerging persona

    Along with Hildur Guðnadóttir’s incredible score, are the use of some classic songs at key moments in Fleck’s transformation. Frank Sinatra’s “That’s life” seemed to perfectly capture an acceptance that life can beat you down at times. But it’s done with it’s calm, almost relaxing, accompaniment that it fit so well into the Joker’s embracing and enjoyment of using his experiences to fuel what he is to become.

    I said, that’s life (that’s life), and as funny as it may seem
    Some people get their kicks
    Stompin’ on a dream
    But I don’t let it, let it get me down
    ‘Cause this fine old world it keeps spinnin’ around

    That’s Life – Frank Sinatra

    I loved the use of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Part 2) too. After living with Arthur and experiencing his hardships first hand up to this point, this song was almost like a release of some of the tension. In fact that seemed to be exactly what Arthur was experiencing too as he danced along to it down them well-trodden steps in one of the film’s most iconic scenes. But even from that up-beat foot-tapping song, Hildur’s excellent score blends back in and takes over to remind us that despite this ‘happy face’, at his core is still that desolate and broken man.

    An unlikely hero

    Joker is probably one of the most unlikely heroes of all of the villains I’ve come across in films. Up until now that is. But of course, that is completely dependant on your perspective. In all of the Batman films, Thomas Wayne was this beacon of hope for the city who, after his death, became a catalyst for his son Bruce to pursue his own destiny as the Batman. But when you come at the story from the side of the “villain” (quotes intended), it makes things not quite so black and white.

    Arthur Fleck comes from the impoverished side of gotham, where the people are pretty much forgotten about and frowned upon by the rich society. There is a moment when Thomas Wayne appears on television, to the excitement of Fleck’s mother, to be interviewed about the three killings on the subway.

    From what we saw on that train car, we know that those three men were complete scumbags – harassing an innocent woman and then beating on Arthur. Yes, Arthur’s reaction was extreme. But after a life of being beaten on by his peers and society around him, and with the only means of self-defence to hand, is it really that surprising that he reacted how he did?

    But then to have Thomas Wayne, the poster child for success and wealth in the city, give the following statement, it puts him in a completely opposing light to how I’d seen him previously: “And until that jealousy ends, those of us who’ve made a good life for ourselves will always look at those who haven’t as nothing but clowns.”.

    Arthur getting ready for the Murray Franklin show

    And until that jealousy ends, those of us who’ve made a good life for ourselves will always look at those who haven’t as nothing but clowns.

    Thomas Wayne, interviewed on TV

    I think it was inevitable that there was going to be some civil unrest on the city streets. But it just so happened that Arthur was at the right place at the right time to kick start the revolution and lead it into a new era for Gotham.

    Births and Deaths

    There was a moment at the end that caused my mouth to drop with excitement and awe. It was just at the height of all of the rioting, as Fleck (almost fully Joker) is being broken out of the police car following his television appearance. We see Thomas and Martha Wayne leaving the theatre with their son Bruce in tow. I thought – hang on, this seems familiar.

    As they run down a side alley to escape the escalating violence they are approached by one of the extreme protesters in a clown mask. This immediately sent me back to being about ten years old again seeing Tim Burton’s batman – “You ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?”. The attacker in Joker didn’t say this, as it wasn’t the same character as in Batman (In Batman it is a criminal called Jack Napier who becomes the Joker). But it was no less powerful for me to see this scene play out at this film’s climax.

    But the most powerful moment for me was the awakening of Joker on the bonnet of the police car — after having been broken out, and the deaths of both of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Although the metaphor is pretty obvious I just wanted to note it down: It is the perfect representation of the births of both Joker and Batman happening at the same point in time.

    Joker is raised up and revered as the leader of a crusade for the beaten and down-trodden in society. At the same time the seeds of what Bruce is to become are planted at the very moment that his parents are taken away from him.

    In Conclusion

    I have only seen a couple of different versions of the Joker, from the New 52 DC comics to the classic Jack Nicholson perforce in Tim Burton’s Batman. And from Heath Ledger’s iconic performance back to Batman: The Animated Series. But I have to say that so far, I think that Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal has easily become my favourite — of the ones I’ve seen on screen, anyway.

    His version is so grounded in reality, so much so that this didn’t even feel like a typical ‘Comic Book Film’ for one second as I watched it. This is a psychological thriller through and through – and a damn excellent one too.

    Joker does have it’s funny moments, but they are sometimes hard to spot — depending on your sense of humour. But if you are inclined towards darker comedy, there are some pretty funny moments in here.

    Related Links

    Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s website.

    ‘Joker’ Originally Had A Very Different Bathroom Scene – from SlashFIlm

    Every Song On Joker’s Soundtrack. – from Screen Rant


  • 📂

    Thoughts on Rosemary’s Baby

    What have you done to it?! What have you done to its eyes?!

    Rosemary Woodhouse

    A Horror Classic

    Rosemary’s Baby is one of those classic horror films that I have known about for years, yet never got round to watching it. But I decided it was time to sit down and finally watch it — and I was so glad I did.

    I can’t offer any in-depth analysis or deeply philosophical film essays on this, or any other films I watch to be honest. What I will do though, is give my thoughts and feelings about it.

    From it’s opening shot across Manhattan, this film felt very much like a Hitchcock film to me. Which was an instant hit for me. However, this isn’t a Hitchcock film – it was in fact made by Roman Polanski. In fact, it was the first film of Polanski’s that I have seen, that I remember.

    Overlooking the apartment building in the opening from Rosemary’s Baby — reminded me of shots from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

    Sustained terror and paranoia

    I absolutely loved the feeling of sustained terror throughout most of the piece. It has been referred to as a “horror film that contains no horror”, although I would argue that the scenes depicted in Rosemary’s “nightmare” on baby night got pretty bloody scary. The images in that nightmare brought up the thought of witches in my mind. And there’s something about witches in older cinema that just creeps me out — even the film version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” still haunts me to this day.

    But for most of the film, the kind of horror that it uses is that of paranoia. The paranoia that builds up in Rosemary as the baby gets closer and closer to it’s due date, and the paranoia I felt towards the excellent cast that surround the actress playing Rosemary, Mia Farrow.

    Even in their very first scenes, I could tell that certain characters were dodgy. But I’m not sure whether that is because I am watching it 52 years after it’s release – with, no doubt, many known films I had seen having being inspired by it.

    Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer were great as Minnie and Roman Castevet. They have a certain friendliness and over-familiarity that I couldn’t help get the heeby jeebies from.

    A false sense of security

    Something else occurred to me whilst writing this post too. I don’t remember there being any dark, particularly scary moments, except for the nightmare I mentioned above. The film takes place mostly in the day time with well-lit rooms and colourful surroundings — I absolutely loved the colours and the choice of camera used here.

    The people that are around Rosemary seem to be always brightly coloured too. It’s almost like the film is trying to put you at ease with it’s colourful, welcoming surroundings whilst the possibility of a dark, sinister underbelly becomes more and more likely as it moves forwards.

    On looking back, it really did feel that the film was easing me into a false sense of security.

    Rosemary Woodhouse

    In Conclusion

    As so many people have said before me, this really is a horror classic. It stands the test of time for me as both a psychological horror and at times a dark comedy — especially with those scenes involving those over-familiar neighbours of theirs.

    I’d urge you, if you haven’t already, to give this film a watch. Don’t leave it as long as I have. It has scenes that I’m still thinking about now — days after I actually saw it. And I don’t doubt that I’ll be thinking about them again in the future.

    External Articles

    Kate Middleton Accidentally Wore a Dress from Rosemary’s Baby for Prince Louis’ Debut

    Is Mother! a Rosemary’s Baby Remake? Is This Poster a Red Herring? Why Do I Suddenly Care?


  • 📂 ,

    1917

    Time is the enemy.

    The tagline from 1917

    1917 is the incredible film from Sam Mendes about two friends tasked with delivering an important message to save a battalion..

    Presented in one single take, or two depending on whether you count some unconscious hours as a cut, this film is a modern testament to stellar film-making.

    The Plot

    1917 centres around two friends stationed near the front line in world war one France. They are given the near-impossible task of taking an urgent order through no-man’s-land to the Front where a batallion of 1,600 men are about to run into a German-laid trap. Of course that is unless these two friends can get there to warn them in time.

    The story takes us, every single step of the way, through some of the most brutal, and at times beautiful, war-time landscapes. Along the way they meet other people who happen across their path, some friendly; some hostile, but neither stop them on their forward momentum to deliver their message of utmost importance.

    My Thoughts

    I’d heard from a few different people that this film was really good and demanded being experienced in a cinema. In all honesty I maybe wouldn’t have gone to see this, at least not on its weekend of release, however, my lady wanted to watch it so we went this weekend.

    It was absolutely incredible.

    The first thing that I couldn’t help but notice was the impressive single camera shot opening (no visible editing cuts), which I only realised about five minutes in.

    But that opening shot was more than just an opening shot – it became apparent to me that this was going to be a film that would be experienced in a single, unflinching scene!

    (I used to read up on films before seeing them when I was going through my media-student phase. But I much prefer it now, where I know next to zero about films before I go in – save for perhaps what is in the trailers.)

    Yes there would have been cuts throughout the film* – no film is going to be physically filmed in one single take, at least none have been to my knowledge. However, using some clever techniques, many of which no-doubt inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope, director Sam Mendes has managed to pull off the same one-take effect but on a much grander scale.

    Beautifully shot

    The cinematography in this film was stunning to say the least – thanks to the film’s cinematographer Roger Deakins. From the close-ups of decaying corpses of both human and animal alike – half buried in the rubble and mud of battles past – to the wide-shot bold imagery taken against very grand battle-torn vistas.

    This film managed to bring to the screen all manner of brutal war imagery. Some I could have perhaps imagined, but also definitely some I could never have imagined.

    And the lighting! The lighting effects in some of these scenes just made my jaw drop, at least in my mind. One particular time was the beginning of the night-time sequence with the flares going up overhead. It looked both gorgeous and like something straight out of hell at the same time – not that the two have to be mutually exclusive.

    There were certain shots I still remember now very vividly, which I thought I would share here. I will create a gallery below when I can get a hold of the shots I want to share – probably when the film is released on DVD/Blu-Ray.

    An Emotional Story

    The story of 1917 is a simple one at heart – deliver this message over there before this time. However, woven into that story is an incredibly strong beating heart that I couldn’t help but be affected by.

    The way that we remain in these people’s immediate vicinity, and experience everything they do, couldn’t help but draw me into their lives. And the stories they tell about their homes and their backstory, helped to fill them out more as flesh and blood people – making their hardships even tougher to endure with them at times.

    Other Notes

    Main characters aside, I have to say that Andrew Scott was a stand-out performance for me. He is always enjoyable to watch on screen after I first saw him as Moriarty on TV’s Sherlock. And his role as the laid-back, battle-hardened Lieutenant Leslie was enjoyable too. Albeit if only for the 5 – 10 minutes that you actually see him.

    Thomas Newman’s score was incredible as always, and easy identified with certain sounds I felt reminiscent of from his earlier work on Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty.

    I couldn’t help but think of this film in terms of a computer game, with it’s varying ‘Levels’ and mini ‘Boss Fights’. I don’t mean this as a way to make the film’s techniques sound like a gimmick – after all games are true contenders in effective narrative storytelling nowadays, even more so than many films that are released. Just look at The Last Of Us, to name just one.

    *I could be completely wrong about this, so apologies if I am – I am making some assumptions in this post.


  • 📂 ,

    Star Wars episode IX : The Rise of Skywalker

    On New Year’s Day I saw my first film of the year — Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker. In all honesty I was expecting to not like it all that much, mostly due to reviews and comments I’d heard from people I know.

    But you know what? I really enjoyed it. It was a fun and visually stunning two-and-a-bit-hour romp across the galaxy. A true good versus evil tale that left me feeling like I’d had a good time at the cinema. And that is precisely what I was hoping for.

    If I’m honest I was hoping for more fight scenes with Rei and Ben as allies, like in the previous film The Last Jedi.

    The one thing that really did take me out of it though is the kiss between Rei and Ben right at the end. I didn’t feel that it was needed at all, and just felt weird to me. Is there really a need for the climactic kiss in every film?

    But on the whole I really enjoyed it. I’ll probably watch it again whilst it’s on at the cinema.

    As an aside, I don’t get why there is always a group of people who lose their shit when something in the Star Wars universe doesn’t go how they thought or wished it would. People who presumably consider themselves “true” fans or “die-hard” fans. To those haters I’d just like to say either get over your sense of entitlement or just watch a different film.