As you will have gathered on Friday, I put together a rather formidable schedule of film viewing. This was partly due to the need to do a bit of catch-up, but also because after watching Snowpiercer and Drive the previous week, I was just in the mood to get some serious movie-watching done.
I was – well – well, look, I didn’t make it through all seven films. Lastnight, after half an hour or so of Christophe Honoré’s La Belle Personne, I hit critical mass and needed to switch off. This is no reflection on poor M. Honoré: his film looks stunning, and I’ll certainly return to it in the coming days.
Of those I did watch, I enjoyed The American most of all. Rather than re-hash my thoughts all over again, though, here they are, re-posted from my Letterboxd profile.
The American (2010), d. Anton Corbijn (watched morning of Saturday 14 March)
I saw the word ‘glacial’ in someone else’s comments about this, and that’s the perfect word for it. The suspense in this film comes mostly from the fact that pretty much nothing happens in it. You get the sense that George’s character knows his game is up pretty early on, but you still want to see what happens. This movie furthers my theory that if you want to make a good movie, you set it in a remote, pretty European village, you cast a reasonably attractive leading pair, and the rest takes care of itself. Didn’t hurt with this one that the leading pair comprised George and the divine Violante Placido.
Well done, Anton. I must now watch all your other things.
Don Jon (2013), d. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (watched afternoon of Saturday 14 March)
Despite the strength of the cast, and the relative simplicity of the storytelling (not always a bad thing), I found myself bored by the first half of this. There was a tension in the character of Don Jon between the selfishness and the sheer niceness of the real Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which I found hard to watch, and hard to reconcile with the rest of the film. The second half, naturally, worked better, in that the character softened. I am glad I watched to the end, but I’m happy with this being a one-time thing.
Kudos to JGL for shooting film, though. Looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Chasing Ice (2012), d. Jeff Orlowski (watched afternoon of Saturday 14 March)
The ‘action’ of this documentary was fairly compelling (when it happened), and I certainly found myself feeling for this climate crusader – renowned environmental photographer James Balog – as consistent technical and medical obstacles rose up before him. However, there was little, really, to keep me engaged for the relatively short duration of this film. That said, ensure that you watch a high-definition copy: the glacier footage is incredible with a high amount of pixels.
Suspiria (1977), d. Dario Argento (watched night of Saturday 14 March, because
I’m an idiot I have nerves of steel)
I bought the Bluray of Suspiria about twelve months ago. I don’t really know why. The fact that it was about $8.00 probably had something to do with it.
Insert disclaimer here: I’m no fan of horror. I find the genre, as a whole, not remotely to my taste. With the exception of The Exorcist and The Shining, I can take or leave every horror film I’ve ever seen on a shelf.
This film, though, is such a cult hit, and the director, Dario Argento, so renowned, that I thought I’d give it a go. And, despite the tone of some of my tweets about the film*, by the very end, I found myself quite happy I’d made it through.
That’s not to say this is a ‘classic horror’ by any stretch, and I’m certainly not qualified to make that call. Rather, I can see the value of this film to cinema and to what I’m assuming is the wider horror oeuvre.
The lighting is superb, the sets are absolutely stunning, and the sound design wends its way between the plain bizarre and overpowering to the quite deft and tricky.
I don’t know if this will inspire me to watch more cult horror, but I’m glad I gave it a go#.
# Trust me to only like giallo.
The Zero Theorem (2013), d. Terry Gilliam (watched morning of Sunday 15 March)
A strange little film. Lots of exceptional performances, particularly from Waltz, Thierry, Thewlis, and Matt Damon was a delight and I want all of his suits.
The film felt empty. There was very little pay-off, and you’re left wondering if the spiritual trilogy begun with Brazil, should have, in fact, ended with Brazil.
Despite the plotholes (or, should I say, plotblackholes) and lack of substance, the film looks glorious, is shot beautifully, and is infused with a sense of vibrancy and colour that belies its often very dark setting.
Worth a look if you’re a Brazil fanboy like me; otherwise I’d probably give it a miss.