Monday, February 25, 2008

La Vie En Rose- Marion Cotillard Won the Oscar for Best Actress

Just a little update-

La Vie En Rose- Trailer
From the streets of the cutthroat Belleville district of Paris to the dazzling
limelight of New York's glamorous concert halls, Edith Piaf's life was a constant
battle to sing and survive, to live and love. Raised in abject poverty, surrounded by hookers and pimps, Edith's magical voice made her a star on both sides of the Atlantic. Her passionate romances and friendships with the greatest names of the period -- Yves Montand, Jean Cocteau, Charles Aznavour, Marlene Deitrich, boxing world champion Marcel Cerdan -- made her a household name as much as her memorable live performances and beautiful renditions of songs she made famous internationally, "La Vie en Rose", "Milord", "Hymn to Love", "Non, je ne regrette rien" and many more. But in her audacious attempt to tame her tragic destiny, the "Little Sparrow" -- as she was nicknamed -- flew so high that she could not fail to burn her wings



Here's one of the great scenes from the wonderful film La Vie En Rose
One of the best films of the last year
For which Marion Cotillard who played Edith Piaf received the Oscar for Best Actress and she deserves it.



for more see:Official Move Site , La Vie En Rose

see you later,
gord

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Johnny Depp's Films " Finding Neverland " & Tim Burton & John Waters


JOHNNY DEPP " FINDING NEVERLAND "

Odd he should take the part of a pirate in the film when playing with the childre. Shades of things to come as he plays in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.



she went to Neverland
Johnny Depp is a wonder





SWEET & SAD STORY OF THE REAL PETER PAN










So I’d like to talk about some films which I enjoyed which starred Johnny Depp. One of these films FINDING NEVERLAND directed by Marc Forster(2004) which I wasn’t sure if it were my cup of tea. But I was wrong about that. I was captivated & enchanted with the story from the first scene to the last. It is the story of J. M. Barrie & how he came to write his most famous play Peter Pan . The film begins with J. M. Barrie(Johnny Depp) who is not a very successful playwright but who keeps plugging away at his chosen profession . He is stuck in a somewhat drab loveless marriage but happens to meet a widow Sylvia Davis (Kate Winslet ) & her four sons & he begins to spend a great deal of time with the family going to the park & playing with them; inventing elaborate scenarios about Pirates & cowboys & Indians etc.& a place he calls Neverland where anything is possible & where children need not grow up. All of this becomes the basis of his play Peter Pan .

The film explores the drama of the story but combines elements of fantasy as we are treated to a wonderful series of the writers flights of imagination which are finally realized in the production of his play Peter Pan. So the film takes on that enchanted quality & yet continues to reveal the reality of the situation J. M. Barrie has entangled himself & others in. He is after all a married man spending most of his free time with another woman & her children so people are bound to talk & speculate that he is having an affair or worse that he might be some sort of pedophile . Barrie is really Peter Pan since he has never really grown up or just doesn’t wish to.

Anyway I just wanted to recommend this film to anyone who may have thought as I did that it would be one of those slow dull period pieces which take a long time to say very little. Besides it is worth it just to see Johnny Depp’s performance . The film is funny & magical & moving.

You’ll laugh & cry & all that jazz. In some ways it reminded me of Tim Burton’s wonderful film Big Fish which also combined real life drama interwoven with fantasy sequences .





STILL TEARS TO SHED IN THE WORLD OF THE DEAD





Corpse Bride- Remains of the Day




A WONDROUS FANTASY FILM



And that brings me to another wondrous film which is Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. The film is done with stop-motion animation like his earlier film Nightmare Before Christmas. The film stars Johnny Depp as the main character Victor who is quite unhappy that his parents have arranged for him to be married in order to help them out of their desperate financial situation . But just before the wedding rehearsal he & his intended bride Victoria (Emily Watson) meet & fall in love. Then he goes off to the nearest graveyard(of course) to practice his vows which he says out loud & a female corpse (Helena Bonham -Carter) rises up to accept his hand in marriage but she is dead & he is still among the living.

It is in some ways a typical theme for a romantic comedy or possibly a tragedy of star-crossed lovers & all that . So Victor gets dragged off to the world of the dead & then convinces the corpse bride she should meet his parents & so they return to the world of the living & he tricks her leaving her waiting for him in the woods but as he returns to his intended & tries to explain what has happened the corpse bride appears & drags him back to the land of the dead. Then the real villain shows up claiming to be a Lord & to be very wealthy who will be willing to marry the young bride to be to save her from public ridicule & then it all gets delightfully weird which is quite to my liking.

Of course what is fascinating about the film is that the world of the living is done in black and white and shades of grey while the world of the dead is in vibrant colors. The dead are depicted as more lively and full of life and seem to be enjoying themselves singing and joking and having a grand old time of it.

The world of the living on the other hand is restrained and the people are in a state of constant worry and anxiety. It is a world of rules with little room for individual expression. It is a world of conformity as in Tim Burton's Edward Scissor Hands also staring Johnny Depp.

There are of course musical numbers as there were in Tim Burton’s earlier films “ Nightmare Before Christmas “ & “ Beetlegeuse ” & his more recent “ Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” .





TIM BURTON'S CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY







OOMPA LOOMPAS IN CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY ( 2005)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Trailer 2005






Another wonderful performance of Johnny Depp can be seen in Tim Burton’s “ Charlie & the Chocolate Factory”. I really enjoyed this newer version of “ Willie Wonka “ . Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka is a quirky, bizarre, & almost malevolent sort of character which is closer to that of the character in the Roald Dahl’s books which are delightful yet a little bit sinister & we feel a bit of unease about Willie Wonka . The visuals & sets are a wonder to see .The factory with its glass elevator & hundreds of Oompa Loompas is awesome.

The story is about Charlie Buckett finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar which entitles him & Grandpa Joe to meet Willie Wonka & take a tour of his factory & a chance at winning a mysterious grand prize.

The oppressive poverty of Charlie & his family is presented in stark terms. The four grandparents live in a bed which they never leave & they all dine on cabbage soup night after night as they huddle in the cold. The father works at a toothpaste factory but is poorly paid & then gets replaced by a machine. They have very little to eat & so dine on cabbage soup everyday .

Grandpa Joe in this version once worked at Willie Wonka’s candy factory before Willie Wonka shut it down because spies were working in his factory who were selling his secrets to his competitors. Of course he reopens his factory & produces candy again but no one knows who or what his workers are. We get the story of how Wonka found the Oompa loompas & brought them to his factory to work for him. We also get a very strange back-story on Willie Wonka whose father was a dentist who wouldn’t allow Willie Wonka to eat sweets so in an act of rebellion Wonka becomes a candy maker.



I should admit I have enjoyed most of the films in which Johnny Depp has been in from his role of the boyfriend eaten by his bed ,actually it was the demonic Freddy in Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street who swallows him up, to John Waters irreverent “ Cry Baby” to Jim Jarmusch’s outre film “ Dead Man “ to the delightful “ Benny & Joon “ to” What’s Eating Gilbert Grape “ to the intriguing “ Secret Window” & Polanski’s supernatural thriller about Book lovers & Satanists “ The Ninth Gate “ to of course Tim Burton’s surreal & touching “ Edward Scissorhands “ & the marvelous & funny & endearing “Ed Wood “ & his gothic rendition of“ Sleepy Hollow” .



Here’s the connection & a bit of movie trivia - SECRET WINDOW & THE DARK HALF

As for Secret Window in which Johnny Depp plays a writer going through a messy divorce & is suffering from severe depression & acute writer’s block . He is staying in a cottage in the woods by himself . Suddenly he is confronted by some psychotic who claims the writer has plagiarized a story he has written. But there is something not quite right about any of this .But even after the ending is revealed the movie still holds together after repeated viewings like a similar film “ Identity” or Hitchcock’s best films. Such as Rear Window, Psycho etc.

Johnny Depp Secret Window



Yes part of the plot for Secret Window has been done before & it may seem very familiar to viewers & part of the reason is that a similar story was told in George A. Romero’s adaptation of Stephen King’s story The Dark Half.

The tip off for me was that Timothy Hutton in Secret Window plays the boyfriend of Johnny Depp’s characters ex-wife.& Timothy Hutton was in George A. Romero’s supernatural film adaptation of a Stephen King story “ The Dark Half ”which is also about a writer who teaches at a college who writes critically acclaimed books which do not sell & so for years writes under an assumed name popular crime stories about a nasty character named Machine so what ‘s the connection. Well one day a low life character played by Rob Joy shows up & threatens to reveal that the professor also writes these trashy novels so the writer decides to kill off his alter ego & as a publicity stunt even pretends to bury him in the town’s graveyard & has it all photographed for a magazine as he decides to go public .

But of course things begin to take a turn for the worse. Something’s not quite right as friends & associates of the professor are being murdered one after the other & we discover that the professor /writer had epileptic seizures as a child . He was finally operated on to see what's causing the seizures . What they discover is that he was supposed to be a twin and that part of the twin had continued to grow inside his head or whatever and then it gets weird. Back to the present as it seems his alter ego Machine has managed to become part of the real world and confronts the writer for he wants to become human or enter the world of the living.

Anyway it is a neat touch to have Timothy Hutton in this other film version of a Stephen King story which is also about a writer in a crisis situation .

Other Johnny Depp films I would recommend include Benny & Joon which is just a little gem of a movie . It is touching and funny .

a funny scene from Benny and Joon -Johnny Depp being wacky



another funny bit from Benny & Joon
Benny & Joon - Johnny Depp, Spokane Riverfront park
Depp doing his Buster Keaton Schtick



Another film I like which didn't get much exposure was John Waters teen musical Cry Baby also starring Johnny Depp. Maybe now that John Waters' Hairspray is a hit more people will take a look at John Waters other films such as Serial Mom and Pecker .

Another film to watch out for is What is Eating Gilbert Grape which is good but a bit uneven .The other great performance in that film is Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Gilbert's ( Depp) younger brother who is mentally delayed and has a thing about climbing the town's water tower and only Gilbert is able to talk him down. Di Caprio is completley immersed in his part. Meanwhile they have a mother who is in a state of depression since the father hanged himself in the basement. As a result she over eats and weighs three hundred pounds or more .

Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate Trailer



Anyway that’s all for now ,

GORD.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pulse / Kairo (2001)Epic Japanese Horror Film By Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Pulse/Kairo Epic Japanese Horror Film By Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kairo trailer



Pulse American Version Trailer





PULSE (2001) JAPANESE FILM BY KIYOSHI KUROSAWA
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JAPANESE HORROR FILM SUBTLE & CREEPY
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PULSE


PULSE

Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001, 119 min. starring Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kenji Mizuhashi, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Show Aikawa, Jun Fubuki, Shinji Takeda and Yakusho Koji.


Anyway I just saw a great Japanese horror film PULSE (Kairo ) by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It came out in 2001 & the American English language remake is being released in theatres on July 14. It would be nice if they don’t screw it up .( This is quite a different kind of film from that of DELLAMORTE, DELLAMORE aka CEMETERY MAN which I discussed in an earlier post .But some of the underlying themes are quite similar.)

The original film is rather strange & is rather surprising since it goes beyond the usual Japanese horror films ; the best of which are rather chilling & unnerving . In Japanese horror films of this type an evil spirit is created by some sort of violent death & the spirit or ghost consumed with rage passes it on to any who come in contact with it as in for example JU-ON 1 & 2 ( the Grudge ) or in Ringu 1 & 2 (The Ring ) or The Ghost or American films like The Changeling or The Others . These films depend more on atmosphere & startling images rather than blood & gore. This is of course a plus for those who are turned off by a lot of blood & gore . Some of us though can enjoy both styles of horror films .
The Ghost in these films are more like individual or specific hauntings whereas the film PULSE which is also not bloody or gorey & is dependent on atmosphere to create its horror but goes much further with such basic themes & is therefore more suggestive of an apocalyptic vision .

In “ Pulse ”we are presented with the stories of two different characters in the city of Tokyo as the mysterious , strange & chilling events unfold in their lives. So the film cuts back & forth between the two separate parallel stories of the young girl Michi & that of a young male university student Kawashima whose paths do not cross til near the end of the film .

The young woman Michi who works in a roof top plant store.
The story begins with Michi & her co-workers a young man named Yabe & another girl named Junco who have been trying to get in touch of another co-worker Taguchi whom they haven’t heard from in over a week & it seems he has been working on a computer disk ( a bit of foreshadowing) which they need . Michi decides to go to Taguchi’s apartment to check on him & get the disk . Michi lets herself into Taguchi’s apartment thinking he is not at home & begins looking for the disk til Taguchi appears coming out of another room . Michi tries to talk to him but he is not very reponsive & answers her questions in a disinterested & monosyllabic fashion. Taguchi then picks up a piece of rope & returns to the other room . After a few minutes Michi goes into the other room & is shocked to find that Tguchi has hanged himself .

When Michi & her two co-workers are sitting around discussing Taguchi’s death which seems to have been a complete shock to them & that there was no hint of him being so depressed that he would kill himself. While they are wondering out loud why Taguchi would suddenly want to kill himself, Yabe nonchalantly adds “ I get that way sometimes . ” This again helps set the tone & the themes of the film of loneliness & feelings of hopelessness & desperation .

Later on they watch the computer disk which Taguchi made & they see a picture of a room , a computer & someone standing nearby who looks like Taguchi & on the computer screen when they zoom in on the image they see the exact same picture on that screen & then the face of the deceased Taguchi appears & this they find unnerving & quite inexplicable .


At another point Michi’s boss says to her that one can not rely on friendships since it seems that sooner or later friends always say or do things which are hurtful to each other . He wonders that if this is so then what is left to give us comfort .
Building on this notion of being alone another character when mentioning her family says they are irrelevant . So both friends & family are of no help to us in our solitariness.

The film cuts to the story of the university student Kawashima who attempts to go on to the internet for the first time . He happens upon a website where he sees images of people going through everyday tasks but their actions seem repetitive . He shuts down his computer & it later comes on by itself opening on the same website & then it gets weird as the question appears on the screen “ DO YOU WANT TO MEET SOME GHOSTS ?” This unnerves him & the next day goes to the computer lab at the university & talks about this with a woman named Harue who is a computer instructor with whom he develops a relationship as they try to come to grips with what is going on .

In Pulse as people on first happening upon the mysterious website feel compelled to return to it they are then haunted & find what is referred to as the Forbidden Room & use red duct tape to seal off the room til finally the world of the dead overcomes them & they seem to be trapped for a period of time between the world of the living & the world of the dead . Then they die or disappear or commit suicide : jumping off buildings , shooting or hanging themselves etc. while others just literally fade into the woodwork leaving a black grease like stain . We see only a few examples of these deaths & the viewer is left to assume that this is what is happening to everyone .
A graduate student talking to Kawashima explains his theory about what is occurring He explains that he believes that the dead are just made up of energy like electricity and that according to him as it turns out the dimension or world in which the dead continue to exist has a finite amount of space & that once that space has been filled the dead will begin oozing into the world of the living by way of any sort of energy source such as computers, televisions, telephones & cell phones etc. So it is not just by way of computers & the internet that the dead are trying to enter our world . For example several times people go to use a telephone only to have some disembodied voice repeat the phrase HELP ME & nothing else. We also see this phrase written on the walls of those who have succumbed to whatever is happening .It seems to be spreading like a disease or plague or possibly mass pschosis.

This idea is similar to that of the belief as stated in the George A. Romero film “ Dawn of the Dead ” in the famous tag-line from the film : “when Hell is full the dead will rise ”.

Early on in the film Kawashima goes to an arcade to play computer games & the arcade is a crowded busy place but a few days later he returns to the arcade & he is the only person there & he discovers there isn’t even a clerk or attendant there. And when he gets on a bus it is empty except for himself & the driver . Remember this is Tokyo which is a big overcrowded city but now seems more & more deserted as the film goes on. Even when Michi at the beginning of the film goes to Taguchi’s apartment in the middle of the day the bus she is on is already empty so whatever is happening has been going on for awhile before people begin to take notice.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE???

KAWASHIMA & HARUE IN " PULSE " ON AN EMPTY SUBWAY TRAIN


“...I don’t believe in ghosts. Even if I saw one I still wouldn’t believe . “ Kawashima says even after all that has happened . This is the last desperate cry of the skeptic . Maybe there is an afterlife but in the film “ Pulse “ it is nothing like Heaven or paradise or even nirvana ; it is just an eternity of loneliness . There is no peace to be found in death .
No choir of angels or winged angels no demons with pitchforks instead death appears to be something a little less dramatic though in itself quite disturbing to contemplate. The dead are aware of being dead & of being disembodied spirits who are condemned to being alone for eternity .
As is said by one character that all her life she had felt herself to be alone & so it shall continue in the same way after her death & so there is little difference in one sense between life & death . This is our life & our death. Death has no great mystery ; it is just a natural phenomenon. The dead are of no help to us. We cannot rely on them for anything. And we ,the living ,can not do anything to give the dead comfort . The film to say the least is chillingly bleak & apocalyptic.

It reminds me of the line in the Lovecraftian John Carpenter film” In the Mouth of Madness “ if you think my other books had an affect (on people) this one is guaranteed to drive them mad. “ explains the writer Kane who has been writing horror stories about some mythical gods which he believes he has created out of his own imagination but realizes it is all true & that it is the creatures whom he refers to as “ the old ones” who have in fact been influencing him & telling him what to write . The old ones are dependent upon those who believe in them & when enough people believe in them they will be able to enter our world .
The message of Pulse is as terrifying as that of the films “ In the Mouth of Madness ” or “ Dawn of the Dead ”.
It is therefore a matter of speculation whether or not the dead in PULSE in order to enter the world of the living need the living on the one hand to believe in them & also need the living to begin to question whether or not life is worth living .


.

See review at
Review © Mandi Apple, 2002.
SNOWBLOOD APPLE : ASIAN EXTREME CINEMA
www.mandiapple.com/snowblood/kairo_pulse.htm


check out the strange home page for the American remake of pulse
www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailviewand

Also check out some entertaining reviews at MOVIEMARK
www.themoviemark.com/

Anyway if you like horror movies & don’t mind subtitles check out the original Japanese versions of JU-ON 1 & 2 . As for RINGU 1 & 2, I preferred the US versions better than the originals but maybe that’s just me .

BYE FOR NOW,
GORD.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Folk MUSIC Inti-illimani, Savia Andina

SURFING THE NET FOLK MUSIC & GRAND OPERA? ERIK SATIE &CAFE APOLLINAIRE


DAY OF THE DEAD BY DIEGO RIVERA
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SURFING THE NET:

While surfing the net sometimes I end up in unexpected places often as not it can be rewarding just go with the flow & you might learn at least a few new things a day.

During the last couple of days I down loaded traditional folk music of Peru & the Andes other parts of South America & Latin america recordings by Savia Andina, Alla Kallpa, Los Kjarkas, Inti-illimani which brought me to the folk music of Native Americans mostly recorded by R. Carlos Nakai which then brought me to Robbie Robertson the bluesy rock singer & composer. One song I came across was Spirit horse of the Cherokee by MANOWAR which I thought was some Native American folk music group was I wrong they are a metal band or what some call Black Metal like Black Sabbath or the early recordings of Metalica. Anyway another of their songs which I copied was Nessun Dorma which I didn't recognize right away til I played it ; it is from one of my favourite operas Turandot which led me to copy recordings of Pavarotti, Andre Bocelli ,Maria Callas etc. & this led me to a great web site one for those of us who like the music but don't know everything there is to know about it or like me who have a bit of a disconect in the memory department & its a great web site for those who have a casual interest . It includes bios of composers a synopsis of each opera & stories about how each opera came about.

Here is the address:
www.metopera.org/home.html

This brings me to really funny short film by Kim Tompson about Grand Opera called ALL THE GREAT OPERAS which aired on an episode of CBC's ZED I have rewatched it a number of times on ZED's website so If you are interested here is the address to go to view this film :

zed.cbc.ca
& punch in the title

And now for some verses from Tales of Cafe Apollinaire. This New & Improved version of the poem is subtitled VARIATIONS ON DISTILLED DREAMS. In this section we meet Marcel DuChamp, Andre Breton, Erik Satie & talking baguettes so enjoy !

TALES OF CAFE APOLLINAIRE:
VARIATIONS ON DISTILLED DREAMS

At Café Apollinaire two aspiring writers
writing alternate pages to a novel
have hung each page upon the walls
of their cluttered dimly-lit cockroach
rat infested undersized apartment
hoping somehow out of chance
during the night the story
will piece itself together-

In his hands an innocent poet holds the moon
in his eyes he holds moon beams
undermines sanctioned madness
conjures a garland of flowers
tossed around the moon-

Poets Artists chain-smoking cigarettes
sharing sweet weed magic-mushrooms
Absinthe & Laudanum drifting about
talking of God & art
from Mount Sinai to the sermon on the Mount
from Allah Brahma & Buddha
to Thor Oden Apollo & Zeus
to Isis & Osiris & Ishtar
cannibalizing art & culture
from Impressionism Cubism & Realism
to Expressionism & Surrealism
Dada to deconstructing
another cup of coffee -

Erik Satie's tables & chairs
composed of musical notes
fill our Café where
Dali's melting clocks hang on fleshy walls
dripping spilling onto the floor
outside men in suits & bowler hats
rain down cats & dogs
Pontiff Andre Breton excommunicates
artistic heretics who fail to follow
Surrealistic Manifestoes-

Angry snarling insulting waiters
serve dishes of stewed art & poetry
some insist on it being raw
others want it over-cooked -

Acting very serious very busy indeed
Marcel Duchamp beavering away
says everything is Art
places written labels on everything
" This is a table " "This is a waiter "
"This is a Urinal" then with a flourish signs his name
someone shouts "Dada Lives"
another shouts "Surrealism Lives"
& a fight breaks out-

On Tuesdays the International Socialists
meet at Café Apollinaire
all the heavy weights & light weights are there
sing a medley of tunes
fit for the Barricades
raise the red flag of Bolsheviks
take a vote toss Lenin Stalin & Mao
out into the streets
let us speak of them no more
dreaming of the Paris Commune
of storming the Bastille-

Eight feet long Baguettes begin to speak
baguettes with arms legs eyes
order coffee & brandy
the library around the corner
has called the police the book shelves
stuffed with big rude cynical Baguettes
the Deli next door complains
they have no Baguettes just stacks
of half- baked books
all done in the twinkling of an eye-
of half-baked books
all done in the twinkling of an eye-

The band plays songs from
the Tibetan Book of the Dead
the Book of Psalms & the Vedic Liturgy
the patrons of the Cafe rush about shoving their way
to the dance floor to do the Can-Can -

see you later,
gord

Sunday, February 10, 2008

John Carpenter 's They Live and In The Mouth of Madness

John carpenter They Live Conspiracy Theory & Paranoia

Mouth of Madness John Carpenter



They Live-john Carpenter






PHOTO JOHN CARPENTER'S " THEY LIVE"(1988) YUPPIES UNMASKED???
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Another favourite film of mine about the subject of the Yuppie Plague is John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE (1988) which I have talked about before. It was directet & written by John Carpenter who also created the original music for the film. It is rather compelling viewing like most of Carpenter's films from "Assault on Precinct 13" & "HALLOWEEN" to the intense monster-fest " THE THING" & his extraordinary & mind-bending " IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS" to his other two more blatantly political & subversive films "ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK" & " ESCAPE FROM L.A." Carpenter is one of the great masters of horror & science fiction.


POSTER OF JOHN CARPENTER'S " THEY LIVE "
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IN "THEY LIVE " JOHN Carpenter uses science fiction themes of the totalitarian state using a form of mind control i.e. a signal broadcast by way of tv as in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) but in They Live the control is more pervasive as the main character Nada , a construction worker, played by Roddy Piper discovers. When he finds a pair of sunglasses which enable him to see things as they really are that is; he can now see the subliminal messages on billboards & in magazines & he can see the ugly alien creatures as they really are who have blended into the society using their mind-control techniques. And when he puts on the glasses the world is no longer in colour but it is a black & white world . Nada 's reaction is one of shock & disbelief since the control is so pervasive & THEY are everywhere. Feeling alone & desperate he gets a rifle & starts killing the aliens in broad-daylight in the downtown core of the city. He is chased by alien & human police .

ALIEN POLICE OFFICER IN JOHN CARPTENER's " THEY LIVE"
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He escapes by jumping into Holly's(played by Meg Foster) car & hides out in her apartment til she tosses him over her balcony. She has her doubts or as one wonders later on in the film ; is she a collaborator with the aliens from the beginning.

NADA EXPLAINING HIS CONSPIRACY THEORY TO HOLLY IN JOHN CARPENTER'S " THEY LIVE "
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He then goes to Frank(played by Keith David) also a construction worker he has just made friends with & asks him to put on the glasses so he will know the truth. Frank thinks Nada is crazy & refuses to put on the glasses which leads to a fifteen minutes long fist fight til Frank finally gives in. The fight is a real slug-fest which some may find a bit too long but the fight occurs in the film at a point where it doesn't detract that much from the story. In fact, it adds to the tension & frustration of what is going on & allows the viewer to empathize more with Nada who is a straight forward naive & honest character who has always tried to play by the rules as he waits for the big break .

AFTER THE SLUG-FEST FRANK SEES WHAT NADA HAS ALREADY SEEN IN JOHN CARPENTER'S " THEY LIVE"

This helps to explain in terms of the film how shallow & materialistic & unsympathetic the 1980's Yuppie crowd have become they no longer have normal or natural human feelings about their fellow-human beings. Those in power have been co-opted by the aliens and are ruthless using force to maintain power. We see this illustrated as the police & soldiers invade the shanty town where the homeless have taken up residence. People suspected of being members of the underground are summarily shot by a firing squad .

MORE ALIEN POLICE IN JOHN CARPENTER'S "THEY LIVE"
AS THEY CHASE NADA & FRANK.
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Unlike the fantasy type ending of the film these cold-hearted money- grubbing middle- class are still among us but in a way they have always been. It is sort of like Pres. G.W. Bush claiming he cares about the working class while he continues to amass afortune for himself & his friends . People like him will say anything & promise anything to get elected & to maintain the Status Quo & creating more opportunities for their children while they continue to take advantage of anyone they can. & do it while smiling.
Or as the popular song around that time preached "DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY"
Or as Sheryl Crow sings "I wish everyone would just lighten up"
Tell that to the Marines & guards at US detention centres or to tens of thousands of American Muslims who feel they have been living in a Virtual Internment Camp since 9/11.

PHOTO RODDY PIPER IN JOHN CARPENTER'S " THEY LIVE" (1988) "I HAVE COME HERE TO CHEW BUBBLEGUM & KICK ASS, AND I AM ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM"
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AND as James O'Ehley from The Sci-Fi Movie Page puts it:
"Probably one of the most subversive films to have come out of Hollywood in decades, They Live is a welcome return to form by legendary cult film director John Carpenter (John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. (1996), John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)) after having directed such abysmal efforts such as Memoirs Of An Invisible Man.

A lonely drifter gets hold of a pair of glasses through which the terrible truth can be seen: the rich are aliens who have already taken over the earth! Billboard advertisements and television broadcasts actually contain subliminal messages such as "Consume", "Watch Television" and "Marry and Reproduce!" All this give new meaning to William Gibson's dictum that the rich no longer resemble anything human!

It's difficult to dislike a film with an attitude like this one. Even when the film forsakes its satiric points and degenerates into a straightforward action thriller, one cannot help but like this film. Take that yuppie scum! "


AND on THEY LIVE see:
www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com/

Also see: SCIFLICKS.COM
http://www.sciflicks.com/they_live/


On THEY LIVE
For a different analysis from the Right see:
http://tim.2wgroup.com/blog/
Random Observations: Review: John Carpenter's "They Live"

That's all for now,
GORD

Saturday, February 9, 2008

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS Film Review

FILM REVIEW


POSTER FOR ZHANG YIMOU'S FILM "HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS"
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THE BEAUTIFUL & SESUOUS MEI PERFORMING " THE ECHO GAME" IN " HOUSE OF T FLYING DAGGERS "
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BLIND MEI PERFORMING " ECHO GAME " FOR CAPTAIN LEO IN " HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS"
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MEI & JIN/WIND PURSUED BY IMPERIAL TROOPS IN " HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS "( 2004)
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MEI & JIN / WIND AGAIN TRAPPED BY IMPERIAL SOLDIERS IN " HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS "
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MEI & JIN/WIND TRAPPED IN BAMBOO SPEARS IN " HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS "
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MEI & JIN/WIND HAVING FALLEN IN LOVE DESPITE THAT THEY ARE ENEMIES IN " HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS "
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Clip from "HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS"




HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
(Shi Mian Mai Fu)

Genres: Action/Adventure and Art/Foreign
Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Release Date: December 3rd, 2004 (LA/NY).
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of stylized martial arts violence, and some sexuality.
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Credited cast:
Takeshi Kaneshiro .... Captain Jin/ Wind
Andy Lau .... Captain Leo
Ziyi Zhang .... Mei
Dandan Song .... Madam Yee

Director – Zhang Yimou
Screenplay – Zhang, Li Feng & Wang Bin
Producers – Zhang & Bill Kong, Photography – Zhao Xiaoding
Music – Shigeru Umebayashi
Visual Effects Supervisor – Angie Lam, Visual Effects – Animal Logic Film (Supervisors – Andy Brown & Kirsty Miller), Digital Pictures Iloura & Mandford Electronic Art and Design Co, Production Design – Huo Tingxiao, Action Director – Tony Ching Siu-Tung. Production Company – Edko Films Ltd/Zhang Yimou Studio/Beijing New Picture Film Co Ltd.

Zhang Yimou proves again he knows how to tell a story turning each frame into something poetic & inredible. This is a great fantasy film . It is amazing to watch . The cinematography & costumes & settings are wondrous if you like. Like HERO the story slowly reveals more depth as the main characters struggle with their personal feelings which come into conflict with their sense of loyalty & honour. It is a story of heroism & loyalty & romance & has an operatic feel to it as did HERO. This is the lesser of the two films as the story is not as well fleshed out nor as much of a sweeping epic as HERO is. It is also more episodic in the way it unfolds whereas in the film Hero the narrative was related to the Emperor by the nameless Hero & we are presented different versions of what actually occurred.
The fight scenes are great feats of choreography & are played out as works of ballet & opera. The film also has the ambition of a Shakespearean tragedy.
The fight scenes are improbable but fascinating set pieces of warriors flying through a bamboo forest through golden fields or fighting while snow fall & swirls around the combatants.

Anyway here is the plot as it were:
The year is 859AD and China's once flourishing Tang Dynasty is in decline. Unrest is raging throughout the land, and the corrupt government is locked in battle with rebel armies that are forming in protest. The largest, and most prestigious of these is the 'House of Flying Daggers', which is growing ever more powerful under a mysterious new leader. Two local captains, Leo and Jin are ordered to capture the new leader and the two hatch an elaborate plan. Hearing that one of the assassins operates in guise as a courtesan at the Peony Pavilion. Jin goes in as a customer and asks to see the best girl, the blind Mei, while Leo pretends to burst in to stop his boorish behaviour. She dazzles him with her dance showing off her skill in what they call ‘ the echo game ‘ but then tries to kill him. He has her arrested, believing that she is the daughter of the Flying Daggers’ recently assassinated leader, who is reputed to be both blind and a martial arts master. Captain Jin will pretend to be a lone warrior called Wind and rescue the beautiful, blind revolutionary Mei, from prison, earning her trust and escorting her to the secret headquarters of the House of Flying Daggers. They are pursued by soldiers who pretend to try and kill them to add conviction to the escape. But as they travel, the mission is tested by the inflamed passions between Jin and Mei and then the news that the general has taken over and ordered the pursuing soldiers to kill them for real.
We later discover Leo knew Mei before & he is also in Love with her thereby creating a “ Love Triangle
which adds more to the opening scenes after repeated viewing .

The ‘Echo Game’ is a dazzling display of choreography of the mix of dance & martial arts( like an over the top Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly number). We are firmly placed in a world of fantasy of Grand Opera where colour sound & movement are used to create moments of drama of danger of fear of hate & of love. The love between Mei & Jin /Wind is the only thing of real value. But No one seems to be who they claim to be so it becomes difficult for Mei & Jin to come to terms with how they feel about each other since they are pawns in a bigger game. Their loyalty to their masters & their honour are at stake in a society which holds these values as more important than one’s personal feelings.


For more on this film see:

House of Flying Daggers
Cannes Film Festival site offers plot synopsis, articles, and video clips.
www.festival-cannes.fr/films/

www.moria.co.nz/fantasy/flyingdaggers.htm

From: www.filmthreat.com/Reviews
review by Stina Chyn

IMDb: House of Flying Daggers
www.imdb.com/title

Amazon.com: House of Flying Daggers (2005): DVD
www.amazon.com

www.apple.com

also see SENSES OF CINEMA
article on Zhang Yimou
by Mary Farquhar
www.sensesofcinema.com

AND:
Open Directory - Arts: Movies: Filmmaking: Directing: Directors: Zhang Yimou ...
dmoz.org/Arts/Movies .com

See You Later,
GORD.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

INGMAR BERGMAN ON DEATH , DREAMS, & DELUSIONS & THE FILM AS AN INTIMATE & PRIVATE EXPERIENCE

INGMAR BERGMAN ON DEATH , DREAMS, & DELUSIONS & THE FILM AS AN INTIMATE & PRIVATE EXPERIENCE


DEATH & MAX VON SYDOW PLAY CHESS IN INGMAR BERGMAN'S "THE SEVENTH SEAL"(1957)
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Clip from Seventh Seal





" No other art-medium—neither painting nor poetry—can communicate the specific quality of the dream as well as the film can. When the lights go down in the cinema and this white shining point opens up for us, our gaze stops flitting hither and thither, settles and becomes quite steady. We just sit there, letting the images flow out over us. Our will ceases to function. We lose our ability to sort things out and fix them in their proper places. We're drawn into a course of events—we're participants in a dream. And manufacturing dreams, that's a juicy business." INGMAR BERGMAN

DANCE OF DEATH SCENE FROM INGMAR BERGMAN" THE SEVENTH SEAL" (1957)
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" My basic view of things is—not to have any basic view of things. From having been exceedingly dogmatic, my views on life have gradually dissolved. They don't exist any longer." INGMAR BERGMAN

POSTER FOR INGMAR BERGMAN's FILM "THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY" (1961)

"I'm no bookworm. Never have been, never will be. But of everything to do with pictures and images I'm omnivorous. All that affects me intensely, closely. Whatever is visible or audible—image and sound—that's what affects me most." INGMAR BERGMAN


INGMAR BERGMAN'S "CRIES & WHISPERS" (1972)
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Ingmar Bergman is another director whom always amazes me. His films are not for everyone, so be it. His films which I enjoyed watching a number of times include THE SEVENTH SEAL, PERSONA, CRIES & WHISPERS, FANNY & ALEXANDER, Through A GLASS DARKLY, THE VIRGIN SPRING & his version of Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE. Like Bunuel & David Lynch or Fellini he is always pushing what film can be further than can be expected. He challenges the viewer & sometimes it just doesn't work but to me that's what any great artist no matter what the medium attempts to do.

So here are some bits of info on Bergman:

Ingmar Bergman

Universally regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema, Bergman has often concerned himself with spiritual and psychological conflicts. His work has evolved in distinct stages over four decades, while his visual style-intense, intimate, complex-has explored the vicissitudes of passion with a mesmerizing cinematic rhetoric. His prolific output tends to return to and elaborate on recurrent images, subjects and techniques. Like the Baroque composers, Bergman works on a small scale, finding invention in theme and variation. Bergman works primarily in the chamber cinema genre, although there are exceptions, such as the journey narrative of WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957) and the family epic of FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1983). Chamber cinema encloses space and time, permitting the director to focus on mise-en-scène and to pay careful attention to metaphoric detail and visual rhythm. Perhaps his most expressive technique is his use of the facial close-up. For Bergman, the face, along with the hand, allows the camera to reveal the inner aspects of human emotion. His fascination with the female face can be seen most strikingly in PERSONA (1966) and CRIES AND WHISPERS (1972)


FROM INGMAR BERGMAN'S "FANNY & ALEXANDER"
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STILL PHOTO FROM "FANNY & ALEXANDER"
" I hope I never get so old I get religious."

Ingmar Bergman
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Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:

" One of the most important figures of the modern cinema, this phenomenally talented artist, through a series of films dating back to the 1940s, practically created and defined his own genre. Noted for pictures that probe the inner reaches of human emotion, Bergman has served as a model for generations of film makers around the world. His primary concerns are spiritual conflict and the fragility of the psyche; within these frameworks, he has crafted a body of work celebrated for its technical and textual innovation. Bergman's interest in life's enduring questions was undoubtedly fueled by a strict Lutheran upbringing (his father was chap lain to the Swedish royal family). As a child, Bergman displayed an active imagination and a love for the theater, which was also manifested during his training as an actor and director at the University of Stockholm."

also see THE INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE
www.imdb.com/

INGMAR BERGMAN
/www.kirjasto.sci.fi/bergman/

And also see website:
TRIBE’S DVDs
/tribex.typepad.com/tribes_dvds/ingmar_bergman

THE MAGIC WORKS OF INGMAR BERGMAN
& www.geocities.com/

& INGMAR BERGMAN : DARKNESS BEFORE THE DAWN
www.hal-pc.org/~questers/bergman.

And at Website :1-World Festival of Foreign Films
"Bringing you a World-Wide selection of foreign films on video and DVD."
/www.1worldfilms.com/Ingmar

Also see HAMISH FORD at:
www.sensesofcinema.com/



For an in-depth analysis of the works of Ingmar Bergman see the essay by Hamish Ford “SENSE OF CINEMA” (
www.sensesofcinema.com/). Hamish Ford argues that Bergman’s films are often too easily dismissed by film critics & students alike.

I believe part of the reason for this is that Bergman’s films demand one’s complete attention & is an experience different from the experience one has while watching most films. Bergman’s films may contain little overt action as the action is more psychological & metaphysical. I find this analysis rings quite true for me.

It is also as Mr. Ford mentions that the experience of film watching is changed by VHS & DVDs. Viewing a film on DVD in the comfort of one's home & at one's convenience we are able to become fully engaged & absorbed while watching a film which then becomes more similar to the experience of reading a novel . It is an intimate & personal experience & not a communal act.

Anyway see you next time,
GORD