Posts Tagged ‘memento’

Self-professed film aficionados lead difficult lives. We spend hours dissecting films; even the really bad ones are dissected for no particular reason than for the writers to brand themselves as morose intellectuals with good taste in art, who are interesting to talk to and incredible to fuck with next to scented candles (I can’t prove it or anything but I hear that once we’ve trashed enough films, the government release nanorobots into our organs to make lovemaking more euphoric). Of course we needn’t feel bad. It isn’t our fault that films don’t understand just how incredibly complex and generally incredible our psyche is. We just need to keep pissing into the wind and find cleverer ways to make light of the blood, sweat and tears shed by people who think they understand films just because they make them.

We look down on IMDB users. We hate Catherina Zeta Jones. Every weekend we download independent films with the lowest possible budgets and then pretend to support the directors.

You want more proof that bloggers who trash films are wankers? Here’s another pretending to know a good film from a bad one.

The Last Broadcast: Finally, a low-budget horror film that I won’t try stuffing down your throats. Directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler have tried really hard to creep us out and as noble as their intentions were, the execution turned out sloppier than unprotected cuddling between former lovers. Botched dramatic improvisation even kills the tension the film’s first five minutes somehow manages to build. Maybe these ‘actors’ weren’t technically supposed to act in Last Broadcast considering its style of narration, but they come across as anxious pastiches of a high school art-house film crew. Stefan’s The Ghosts of Edendale and Lance’s Head Trauma still sound worth checking out because you never can be fully sure about these indie fellows.

Batman Begins: I can’t argue that it was Hollywood’s most faithful interpretation of Bob Kane’s vision, but to associate so much credibility to it is just silly. Tim Burton‘s caricaturization during the early Nineties was laughable at best while Joel Schumacher made Nicholas Cage sit through snuff porn in his next film just to reclaim his credibility with film-goers. Sure, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was miles ahead in terms of authenticity and general aesthetics, but honestly, how difficult did you think that was? The film passed our litmus test even before it was released. From the moment we heard that the guy from Machinist was being groomed by the guy who directed Memento to replace George Clooney as our most favourite superhero in the whole wide world, I think we collectively gasped in joy without second guessing. Truth be told, Bale’s only passable as Batman and sometimes downright ridiculous as Bruce Wayne. He channels American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman without realizing that only one of them is actually a sociopath; the other only fakes it to lead a normal life. I blame it all on Lee Strasberg. Method acting, my ass.

Michael Caine’s portrayal of Alfred isn’t any better, it’s a far cry from the swank stoicism that the character was once legendary for. Seriously, which godforsaken issue has ever had him cracking bland homoerotic jokes while master Wayne battles for his life? As for Katie Holmes, she’s either Catherine Zeta Jones in disguise or the known universe is far crueler than I have thought it to be. Even Liam Neeson is an abomination; Raz Al Ghul‘s supposed to be a badass existential eco-terrorist, not the bastard fruit that fell from the loins of David Blaine, Morpheus and Al Gore.

What is all the hype about Nolan anyway? Memento was about twenty minutes too long. Insomnia had one the least likable Al Pacino performances. The Prestige was sheepishly mesmerizing at best and a Joker-less The Dark Knight would have been both propagandistic and boring. Maybe people just can’t love him enough for his debut. Now that was a good movie.

88 Minutes:As far as I’m concerned, Al Pacino has only looked comfortable playing dorky victims of dire circumstances. In films like Scarecrow or Dog Day Afternoon, he was completely believable as the average guy who has had his life turned upside down, inside out; all twitchy and restless, he had us hanging on to his character’s quirks, righteously mongering our sympathy in the process. Taylor Hackford’s The Devil’s Advocate was perhaps the first unavoidable indication that Al Pacino could really suck too. I mean, you don’t exactly have to ooze charisma when your character has such a fabled history of ironic sophistication as Satan did and yet Pacino managed to make it offensively theatrical, often dueling with Keanu Reeves to see who could make the most inappropriate sex faces during dramatic scenes.

In Jon Avnet’s 88 Minutes, he gives his character so many different dimensions that GPS-enabled rhombuses could have lost their way in there. Maybe Dr Jack Gramm had multiple personality disorder in the original script and somebody forgot to inform him about its last-minute exclusion or Pacino was desperately trying a million different things to bring back his credibility as a performer, either way it had too much of negative impact on the film for me to even bring up Alicia Witt’s blindingly horrific acting. I’m telling you, minions, watch William Friedkin’s Cruising and then Godfather I, II or III. He just isn’t the same actor. If you can’t see the difference, then we just don’t see eye-to-eye on films. Also, you are a stupid idiot of a nonsense fool and you will punished for your insolence. Hmpf.

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Man About Dog: We all know by now that Guy Ritchie inspired a bunch of British films with his flashy editing technique and reworking of Kurusowa’s improvisatory narration. He grabbed the crime drama genre by its neck and sliced and diced through its modus operandi of storytelling. Barring the travesty of Sherlock Holmes and Swept Away, his other films have stayed clear of turning redundant; so much so that aspiring directors have generously borrowed his ideas to try and make it their own. Paddy Breathnach’s Irish comedy Man About Dog is ritualistic in its adoration for Snatch, right from the hare-coursing and gambling plots to malevolent old men and vernacular jokes. While it isn’t anything as entertaining as Ritchie’s, you have to love them for trying. Some of the gags in fact are blessed with exquisite timing, especially when they involve Cerebral Paulsy (Tom Murphy), the spaced-out hash enthusiast. Not that its funny to see people do weird stuff on drugs; just that their response to stimuli naturally slows down enough to qualify as being comedic, especially considering the kind of situations these four guys get themselves into. The other two – Mo Chara (Allen Leech) and Scud Murphy (Ciara Nolan) – aren’t as funny but adequate in their roles as the ambitious lads looking to make a quick buck. Unfortunately the plots and sub-lots that run wild during the course of the film fall flat many a times. Unpredictability was what kept us on our toes in Snatch; if I knew beforehand that Mickey was betting against himself, I wouldn’t have had that satisfyingly stupid grin when Mickey’s friends blow Bricktop’s head off with a shotgun.

In Man About Dog, you can sort of figure out how things are going to turn out but thankfully it has enough working-class entertainment (like this one, for instance) to make this worth a watch. I never understand when people say “that film had a heart” but if it has anything to do with a bunch of nice enough people creating a fun, harmless movie about prize dogs and mad Irishmen, well you can fake breakdancing moves with your friends to its hearbeat. You’d also be well advised to check out Paddy Breathnach’s The Long Way Home and I Went Down, two great examples of Nineties’ British films. RIP Tom Murphy too.

Summer Scars: Extreme urban violence seems scarier to me when perpetrated by kids. Maybe I’m a closet pediophobic or maybe everyone should be working harder towards distancing their children from sharp objects and flammable substances, whatever that is, I believe that innocent minds when manipulated can have far worse consequences than ones already corrupted. That’s why films like Eden Lake scared the pants off me, as did a few others in the British hoodie genre. Julian Richards’ little indie film Summer Scars turns the tables on the hoodies. It transports a few of them into gorgeously lazy woodlands and lets loose a volatile drifter.

Richards has created a taut low-budget thriller that builds tension so effortlessly that we get caught up in the dilemas faced by its characters. Kudos to the younger actors for not going Haley-Joel Osmont on us and instead playing down their emotions as real kids would when they’re seriously frightened. Amy Harvey and Ryan Conway are especially good in making us care deeply about what happens to them. I guess, obscurity and simplicity has given them an air of genuineness that couldn’t have been taught in any acting class. However it is Kevin Howarth, who plays Peter – a volatile drifter, who makes Summer Scars a true stand-out in the crowded UK indie genre. He reminded me a lot of Paddy Considine in Dead Man’s Shoes; understated, intense and always a cigarette away from going completely nuts. Sometimes you even wonder if he really is a psychopath or just a serious man with shitty luck. The director cleverly keeps us guessing until a series of uncomfortable moments towards the end of the film. Also get your hands on Jacob Aaron Estes’ Mean Creek, a toned-down, but better-looking version of this.

Lake Mungo: Yay. Another ‘footage found’ film with plenty of chills! While neither as eerie as Christopher Denham’s Home Movie nor as tense as John Dowdle’s Poughkeepsie Tapes, it has so many wonderfully creepy things that you get sucked into it atmosphere. Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo revolves around the strange, sudden disappearance of Ms Arnold Palmer, and the spooky consequences that would have any parapsychologist frothing at the mouth with joy, but given that the Palmers are your regular friendly-neighbourhood family, has them scared shitless.  The best parts of the film creep up from behind during the beginning and the end, with an unnecessarily extended middle portion. The faux sub-plot of the resident psychic’s role in the haunting seemed a tad unnecessary too; much like the lengthy interviews with Timothy Treadwell’s plutonic friend in Herzog’s Grizzly Man. The other twists and turns are cleverly woven in, and like most self-respecting low-budget horror films, it uses the shaky, grainy camera angles to raise the level of suspense. Director Joel Anderson even makes Lake Mungo’s lack of originality ( it is loosely based on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Susan and Leland Palmer, remember?) seem less bothersome by giving it a perfect ending. This certainly isn’t some Discovery channel-produced “Unsolved mystery” . Lake Mungo is a faux documentary about grief and supernatural longing that could beat the crap out of Paranormal Activity in a fist-fight.

The Lookout: Joseph Gordon Levitt is getting really good really fast. Ever since he starred in Greg Arakki’s Mysterious Skin in 2004, he’s been on a roll, with his portrayals of downbeat characters. While his performances in films like Shadowboxer, Latter Days and Manic have solidified him as an actor who’s both consistent and talented, in films such as Brick, Mysterious Skin and now this, he’s so good that I worry for him. Young actors who show signs of greatness tend to fizzle out and lose themselves in mediocrity. I can only hope that he bypasses the Christian Bale phenomenon and stick to what he does best even when everyone else is telling him, oh man, you can do that in Hollywood too.

In Scott Frank’s moody thriller The Lookout, Joseph Levitt plays Chris Pratt – a teenager who has his life turned inside out following a terrible accident. Tragedy, pain pills and memory loss turn this once popular high school jock into a bumbling, insecure bank janitor. Brick meets Memento, anyone? Even Levitt’s ‘sad puppy look’ works to his advantage because he expresses it through his eyes instead of pursing his lips down or doing something silly. The story here is that he is conned into aiding a local gang rob the bank he works for. Sex, money and friendship are thrown at him in exchange for him playing a crucial part in their heist. Matthew Goode (as Gary), the brains behind the heist and the betrayal, Jeff Daniels (as Lewis), Chris Pratt’s older, much blinder roomie and Sergio Di Zio, who plays small-town deputy Ted, are really good in their roles. Lewis is a big ol’ optimistic mongrel, Ted’s a saturated do-gooder and Gary’s just an  asshole, all very believable and engaging to watch. Isla Fisher, unfortunately named Luvlee in this one,  deserves special mention. She plays the morally ambiguous girlfriend character and has figured out how to channel it on-screen, almost stealing the spotlight from Gordon Levitt. Almost. As for the young man, don’t you dare play Dick Grayson…ever.

The Descent Part 2: Something tragic has happened in the independent horror film circuit. Jon Harris has made its worst sequel ever (at least The Daring Dobermans made no bones about being silly). The first part of Descent was brilliant like few other modern horror films have been; claustrophobic visuals, fascinating thrills and flat-out great storytelling.  This one’s as bad as it can possibly be. Redundant visuals, predictable twists and awful dialogues. Worst of all, the clichés, good Lord, so many of them in this, right from useless cops, angsty Aussies to a bunch of storyline loopholes and frivolous false alarms. It is clear the director has opted for The Descent Part 2 to have wider appeal, and it might have been understandable if it didn’t eat so much into what made the franchise so great the first time around. Even the gore factor doesn’t help matters since the audience gets precious time in-between the running, the screaming and the freaking out to admire anything else. It even commits the ultimate crime that a sequel ever could, cheaply insinuating that Part 3 is right around the corner. Avoid this like a Chuck Norris’ high kick to the skull.

Next up, Crazy Heart, Home Sick, Leaves Of Grass, Delirious and City Island.

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Lawn Dogs: I am not entirely sure what director John Duigan wanted to convey through Lawn Dogs. It is the equivalent of reading a Patrick McCabe novel. You are not entirely sure about what’s going on, but somehow you are moved by it. Throw in some over-the-top symbolism and a haunting musical score and you’ll be lucky not to be squatting naked on your bathroom floor, clutching your knees, sobbing while dealing with a migraine by the end of the film.

Alright, maybe I exaggerate a bit (certainly not about McCabe though, try reading Mondo Desperado), but seriously, the ending freaked me out. And I want that beautiful piece of music that pierces through the climax more than I want chocolate shavings on my double-scoop sundae.

lawn dogs

Sam Rockwell once again gets on every critic’s good side with his commitment to his character’s eccentricities. Even in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, he played the role of Zaphod Beeblebrox with the perfect level of silliness and assholishness (I don’t get paid for this, you know). In Lawn Dogs, Rockwell plays Trent – a free-spirited, slightly insane trailer park reject who makes a living by mowing lawns in the nearby sophisticated housing development. Enter Mischa Barton, who plays Devon Stockard – a ten-year-old girl who feels so burdened by society’s imperfections that she hardly feels the need to let her mind wander within hundred feet of reality. They have something in common – the urge to keep running away until normalcy is all but a tiny dot.

Of course, the other residents misconstrue certain events, which leads to many awkward moments and by the end, a few disturbing, violent ones between these two lawn dogs and the rest of the world. Like I said earlier, I don’t think Lawn Dogs ended the way that would have probably catapulted it to greatness (or at least what I conceive to be so), but it did leave me with a feeling that it could never be replicated again. That’s more than I can say for most of what artists across different medium spewed forth during the Nineties.


Donnie Darko: Dam…I should have watched Donnie Darko a few years ago. Not that I didn’t enjoy it a whole lot, but something tells me that I would have just stopped short of persistently drooling if I had watched it then. See folks, if you want to make a film about teenagers getting messed up by peer pressure, social alienation and all that, this is what you do. You hire a competent actor (Jake Gyllenhaal is exactly that), give his character a vague emotional crisis, weave a plausible storyline around his life and then boldly going where few films about stressed out teenagers go  – a dark alley where different genres of film meet up and shake hands.

doniie darko

Donnie Darko does that to science fiction; often teasing to cross paths with time travel, but never obliging to say more than a kind word. I’ll stop before I confuse you further by talking about everything else than the storyline. So, go watch Donnie Darko. It is directed by Richard Kelly and features solid performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal (whom I think can do no wrong) and Holmes Osbourne. Oh, Patrick Swayze is remarkably sleazy and awesome in his role as the motivational speaker. No wonder he almost managed to save Niall Johnson’s Keeping Mum with similar creepiness.

followingFollowing: This one is Christopher Nolan’s first full-length feature film and with the exception of Memento, it also happens to be his most satisfying work. Surprisingly, most its uniqueness stems from the fact that the storytelling in Following hardly bears to any resemblance to any of his future endeavors that brought Hollywood to its knees. Before I go on raving about this and that, you should know that the narration is presented in a disjointed format; meaning that Christopher Nolan – the cinematographer – had more of an impact on this film than Nolan – the director or the writer.

Shot in a grainy 16 MM camera, it gives us a glimpse into the life of ‘Bill’ (Jeremy Theobald) – a writer who one day decides to follow people in order to understand more about them. An encounter with a sharp dressed thief (Alex Haw) leads ‘Bill’ and us, the audience, into a journey of fractured self-discovery. So, is this film noir? Perhaps, but with muted words replacing dramatic silence.


Pi: And this one just happens to be Darren Aronofsky debut film (both of which are available, excellently packaged at Rainbow DVD store in Old Parsons Complex). This too has been shot in murky black and white with the inconsistent camerawork working to its benefit. As horribly cheesy as the tagline – searching for patterns in all the wrong places – is, it perhaps is the most accurate description of Aronofsky oddly intense debut.

Pi has Sean Gullette playing Max Cohen – a New York-based mathematical theorist who believes that numbers can solve universal complexities and provide a definitive answer to the biggest problem of all, life itself. With the help of Euclid (his homemade supercomputer), he looks to find patterns that could give him control over the stock market. Like Following, the protagonist’s life changes after a strange encounter with an even stranger man – in this case, Lenny Meyer (Ben Shenkman), an orthodox Jew who theorizes on Torah (Judaism’s original religious and legal texts).


Now look, I have absolutely hated mathematics as long as my memory permits. Nothing made me sadder as a kid than to know that solving a problem involving numbers held the key to how close I was to a righteous asskicking from my dad. Despite that, I enjoyed the tricky arithmetic of Pi; mostly because the director didn’t suck the life out of it by taking away the element of human error.

Pi is splendid mostly because we pity Max Cohen more than anything else.

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Sometimes the world rules…

Slumdog Millionaire: It’s fantastic that Danny Boyle teamed up with Vikas Swarup. It’s not often that a great novel gets to be made into good movie (yeah that went well…grrr  read here). I almost get a headache thinking about how much better Q & A is when compared to any Booker Prize-winning Indian novel.

Shoe-In: Cheers for George Bush-based flash games. Finally, sliced bread has stiff competition. I just hope Lebanon and Turkey don’t go to war over the shoe’s origins.

The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke’s stamp of approval for underground wrestling. Fake you too, soothsayers.

Trinket, Montane Trinket: A new species of snake has apparently been discovered near Goa. Added to that, a new forest has been discovered in the northern Mozambique region of southern Africa. Yippee…the world is having an abortion.


Sometimes it chews on donkey balls…

Ghajini, It Seems: Apparently South India didn’t do enough damage to Memento. And kudos to that Bollywood guy who claims Ghajini is not a remake of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. He’s right, you know? It is not just a remake; it is a piss-poor, batshit crazy, self-defecating, puerile remake.

High School High: Congress has demanded that minority affairs minister Antulay should take his comment back regarding the death of Hemant Karkare. The minister apparently replied, “You take your comment back”, to which Congress said, “oh yeah…” thereby initiating a 2-hour staring contest.

Broadcast Media: With no specific natural disaster scheduled for next year and with Indian security being tightened up to avoid terrorist attacks, the media has now decided to make people paranoid about polio vaccination.

Popular Genes: A random study showed that teens become more popular if they carry the human gene linked to rule breaking, adding more steam to the theory that to rebel is to battle Attention Deficit Disorder.

Epiphany: Jeers to everyone in general for requiring a panel of experts to tell them “Indian and Pakistani journalists have been acting like nationalists instead of like journalists.” You could have dug up Helen Keller from her grave and asked her instead.

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