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Posts Tagged ‘The Machinist’

I’d wax eloquent about the joys of brevity, but it is as much an art form as a goat’s tonsil tethered to the business end of a woodwind instrument. I have merely realized that it takes a week or two for me to forget why I loved or loathed certain films. Hence, the frantic and discourteously blunt dialogue on various films, good, bad and those starring Abhishek Bachchan.

Thursday: Skip Woods is best known for writing brain-dead masala flicks (Swordfish, GI Joe). Before his inglorious pilgrimage towards questionable stardom, he wrote Thursday – a brutish white-knuckled urban thriller. Thomas Jane and Aaron Eckhart are glorious as main characters, Casey and Nick; one a drug dealer and general practitioner of chaos and the other well versed in both, but unwilling to participate. The cameos are so good that if it were up to me I would piss and moan in the parking lot until someone made full-length feature films with the Rasta assassin (Glenn Plummer), the skittish adoption agency executive (Michael Jeter) and the corrupt copper (Mickey Rourke) as lead protagonists.

Good Intentions: I enjoy small-town comedies about blackmailing, dysfunctional families and oddball sheriffs as much as the next blogger drunk on his/her own pathos of fashionable city life. Unfortunately, Jim Issa’s Good Intentions is so mediocre that if you squint one of your eyes you can actually see a silhouette of Tom Hanks in every second frame. The film has one good joke that it beats the crap out of until all the horses drop dead quicker than Luke Perry should actually retire from acting.

Hard Eight: Paul Thomas Anderson always gives us something different to play with every single time. How a single brain can conceive both Boogie Nights and Magnolia I’ll never understand. His debut Hard Eight a.k.a Sydney stars two of my favourite actors – John Reilly, Philip Baker Hall – has Samuel Jackson in his second best role ever and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing what he actually does best, play an ostensibly unlikable tub of lard. They share incredible chemistry too, feeding off each other’s intensity like real performers should. If only Hope Davis, Juliette Lewis or Chloe Sevigny were cast as Reilly’s love interest instead of Gwyneth Palthrow, I would have had a tough time explaining why salt-crusted tears sometimes leave a happy trail on my cheeks.

Raavan/ Raavanan: People treat Mani Ratnam’s films like chunks of yak cheese. They stick a piece in inside their cheeks and chew on it for hours, desperately looking for nuances to hate and love. I’d feel better comparing his films to the now defunct Cadbury’s Dollops chain of ice cream stores; never spent nights wondering how scrumptious their ice creams were; never really playfully tore the dead skin of my palm, thinking about all the wonderful new flavours that could be…sure, I enjoyed a scoop or a cone every now, but that’s because I generally liked ice cream. It didn’t really matter if it were Arun, Kwality or Dollops. The Tamizh version of Ravanan would have been worth a second watch if it weren’t for the lame cinematography/music that sounds/looks ripped off from some unfashionable first-person shooter Playstation game, and Aishwarya Rai. The Hindi version had Abhishek Bachchan…so uhmmm no thanks.

Next Stop Wonderland: Yes, this is a romantic comedy from Miramax Films, but no, it doesn’t suck at all. It’s probably one of most likable romantic films ever made. Director Brad Anderson is man of proven genius (Transsiberian, The Machinist, Session 9, Happy Accidents), but the spotlight from Next Stop Wonderland righteously gleams on the lead couple – Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant and ever so slightly on Seymour Hoffman, who is hilarious as a disgruntled hippie. The couple’s love story is in fact reminiscent of that film in which Amala and Mohan play star-crossed lovers who never get to see each other, with all the melodrama stifled and replaced instead with melancholy. The ending is just perfect even with nobody really dying or carrying the burden of such.



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session 9

Session 9: I didn’t know this until IMDB filled me in a few hours ago, but I have seen all of Brad Anderson’s films. In fact I have enjoyed everything he has done. Despite being little more than romantic comedies, Happy Accidents and Next Stop Wonderland escape the suck on the merit of its actors – Marisei Tomei, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Philp Kaufman. As many of you already know, The Machinist is fantastic and actually does justice to Christian Bale’s method acting shenanigans. Of course, there is that gratuitously updated Hitchcock train ride of 2008 – Transsiberian – which then brings us to Session 9 (co-written by Stephen Gevedon) that was released in the year 2001. I watched it a few days ago and I must say, it has left me in a deliriously creeepy state of mind (much ike Wolf Creek, Descent, Eden Lake). The sort in which, you are strangely at ease with not predicting false climaxes since you actually care about what happens to these characters; in which, you are also not cool with the director’s sense of justice, but you choose to make peace with it for the sake of cinema. Seemingly trivial stuff, but constant reminders that there’s more to the relationship between films and free time.

session9

So, this five-member asbestos cleaning crew goes to work on the Danvers State Mental Hospital (now an abandoned asylum) and well, something’s not right. The boss man – Gordon (Peter Mullan) – seems to be a little over the edge, his best friend and crew chief – Phil (David Caruso) – has gotten secretive about his professional intentions while the other two – Hank (Josh Lucas) and Mike (Gevedon…again) – seem more troubled than ever before. Oh there’s Jeff (Brendan Sexton III) too, but he’s just a slacker who’s afraid of the dark. As the film claws its way towards a feverish climax, you are desperately unsure about what exactly is creeping you out; and when you finally realize the cause behind all the bloody carnage, you sigh and think about how enormously frightening it must be for blind mice to find love. If you are one of those normal people, you’ll probably recoil in terror and mumble, “oh that’s messed up”.

Ahem…anyway, Peter Mullan and Stephen Gevedon give fantastic performances with the latter proving his mettle in scriptwriting, as well. Tight, atmospheric, and gripping, Session 9 is definitely one of the creepiest films I have ever seen.

quarantine

Quarantine: I love zombie films. If my fears about the swine flu were to ring true and the dead start coming back to eat the living, I would want George Romero to come over to India and shoot a film about that. Hell, he could even title the film as  Had To Joke About Pigs Flying, Didn’t You? and I’d still love it. Zombies = fun. Needles to say, I got a real kick out of Quarantine. John Erick Dowdle, along with his brother Drew, took the storyline from Jaume Balagueró and Luis Berdejo (who wrote the apparently superior Spanish original – REC) and gave it an ol’ American twist. For instance, they bring into account the distrust people had towards the Bush administration. In this case, a bunch of middle-class folks are trapped inside a building that has been sealed up by secretive government agents. Inside, a cop and a military officer try to rally up the forces to ward off those pesky zombies. I am pretty sure I have seen this a hundred times before in different films, but I have yet to dislike even one. However I must admit… The Poughkeepsie Tapes movie sounds infinitely cooler.

dead_mans_shoes

Dead Man’s Shoes: My consumption of Shane Meadows’ films begins with Dead Man’s Shoes. I have read too many nice things about him for me stay away from his work any further. I guess I’ll post a Shane Meadows edition in couple of weeks, so I’ll make this one brief. Dead Man’s Shoes is a tremendous low-key revenge thriller. The premise is not original, but the atmosphere certainly is. The lush sceneries that embrace the screen every ten minutes, along with the lovely music score, do wonders. The film begins with Richard (Paddy Considine) scouting lambs for the slaughter, as we are told that this former army officer is out to draw blood from all those who did horrible things to his younger brother. And then we meet the perpetrators – some callous, drug-addled men, others normal blokes who just had a wild night out. There’s almost this Woodsman effect (a film in which Kevin Bacon plays a sympathetic pedophile) which causes you to question Richard’s morality – and that’s exactly what makes this film utterly fantastic (and also why Azrael remains as one of the great Batman characters). I will write more about Shane Meadows soon.

bottle_rocket

Bottle Rocket: Wes Anderson’s films – Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou – have redefined my expectation of humour from mainstream American cinema. Even the recent Darjeeling Limited was pretty great too. As much as I would like to habe them labeled as underground, they wouldn’t fit the billing. They have A-list actors, a decent budget and pristine production – elements that fortunately seem inept at tainting the humour quotient. Prior to watching this, I have heard a lot of nice people say that Wes was never quite as funny as he once was in Bottle Rocket. Well, I don’t know, man…I just wasn’t tickled by Bottle Rocket’s supposedly whimsical comedy. It was almost as though Wes Anderson let the more random of the Coen Brothers (not sure which one) take over the directing duties. While I could have thought of far worse directors to associate metaphorically with this film, it does lack the charm that accompanied his Wes’ films with Bill Murray.

The story is that Owen and Luke Wilson – two likable criminals desperate to play high stakes try to weasel their way into better lives. The jokes draw a laugh or two, but that’s mostly because of the over-the-top delusion of Owen’s character (Dignan). You can almost see where Wes Anderson got the idea for that Eli Cash character in The Royal Tenenbaums. Luke’s a miss in this one as his character channels the mild confusion that drives those kids in Beverly Hills 90210 and passes it off as existential grief. Together they get themselves entangled into silly situations until salvation reaches out to one of them. Unlike the film, life’s happy ending worked out much better. Mr Wes Anderson has grown to become an absolutely terrific director.

incident at loch ness

Incident At Loch Ness: So, this Hollywood producer (Zak Penn) ropes in Werner Herzog and a few others to shoot a film about the Loch Ness monster. Little does Herzog know that Zak just wants to make a blockbuster without actually giving a shit about cinema, art, German New Wave and all that. The thing is, another crew is already filming a documentary about Werner Herzog’s life so we, the audience, get to watch the making of The Enigma Of Loch Ness, and also the making of the making of the same. Of course, none of this actually true, so what we are left with is a confusing mockumentary that is both hilarious and silly in equal proportions. Directed by Zak Penn (who is friggin awesome as a mean-spirited asshole), and starring Herzog…wait, no really…dammit. Go watch Incident At Loch Ness and you tell me.

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I used to love album covers. They made me feel all warm and fuzzy during my several trips back from the record store.  And I still dig DVD covers. Big, big time.

To paraphrase Maria, these are a few of my favourite things.

Music

Thelonious Monk – Underground   The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots   Rage Against The Machine – Battle Of Los Angeles   Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back   Slayer – Divine Intervention   Midnight Oil – Bird Noises   James – Hey Ma   Venetian Snares – Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms   The Clash – London Calling

Films

Transpotting   Return Of The Killer Tomatoes   Almost Famous   Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou   Pi   The Machinist   Carandiru   Adaptation   I’M Not There

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