When one encounters a CG-meets-live action version of The Smurfs, one should be fully aware of what to expect walking into the theater. It will be mildly stupid with brief, infrequent descents into more offensively stupid territory. There will be lots of puns, most of them capped with the word “smurf” used as an adjective, verb, or both. Madcap adventure and goofball comedy will give way to an earnestly good-hearted conclusion. Emotions will be sweetly insipid and pour over the audience in abundance. Credits will roll. Sweet little kids will walk out loving it. Their cynical older siblings will roll their eyes and talk trash. And critics like me will lambaste the poor sap of a movie with nasty verbal barbs, some of which are deserved and others that are totally unwarranted.
A deadpan movie, which begins with a series of unpretentious shots of talking faces, slowly turns into a low-budget spectacular, as the images on the screen are impregnated with film history. Near the end, swamped in fugitive references, A Useful Life growls with swells and eddies of feeling, every small moment elevated into an epiphanic orgasm, so that everyday existence becomes the battleground for ecstatic freedom.
Far and away the most fascinating of 2010’s crop of high-profile “prankumentaries” – and one of the year’s best in any genre – many critics found Exit Through the Gift Shop, from iconically anonymous street artist Banksy, literally too good to be true. A shockingly entertaining blend of humour, insight, coincidence and subversion, it’s been commonly suggested that, like Joaquin Phoenix hoax I’m Still Here, Gift Shop was an elaborate con, playfully but purposefully crafted to expose the absurdities of the commercial art scene.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes full grunge as the titular character in Hesher, playing a chain-smoking pyromaniac with no past and no apparent future. He’s a cartoon character, or some product of MTV who happens to step in on the life of young T.J and his family during the grieving process for T.J’s mother.
Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique is a masterwork of mood, more concerned with tapping in to deep wells of feeling than with concrete ideas and concepts. Kieslowski was a filmmaker who dealt more in intuition than intellect, which is not to say that his films don’t contain material worth chewing on intellectually, just that they resist literalist or symbolist interpretation and exist more in realm of sensual experience.
In the history of literature, few works have inspired quite so varied and vast a wealth of adaptations as Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic horror Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Reproduced times innumerable on stage, screen, and radio, Frankenstein’s fate has been eternally sealed, its monster character among the most iconic symbols of fear itself.
A nightmare begins; the screen is splashed with bright primary colours, the shots contain a maniacal energy as they shift gracefully from one threatening composition to another accompanied by a pulsing rock score complete with strange howling and secret voices whispering… This is Dario Argento’s Suspiria, this is his nightmare.
Well folks, the end is no longer nigh: it’s here. After nearly eleven years of perpetual anticipation, whether it be for a new Potter novel or film, we as valuable members of the Harry Potter Generation no longer have anything to anticipate. As sad a statement this may be, avid fans will be delighted to know that the franchise has certainly gone out with a bang with its eighth and final film, and as far as literary adaptations go, a majority of the series will most certainly be very hard to top given how dedicated both the cast and crew have been to keeping us satisfied from day one.
An indie-spirited tale of youthful romance in the vein of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, Submarine is the cine-literate directorial debut of Richard Ayoade, the British actor known primarily for his television work.
There is something almost daunting in approaching for the first time the work of a director universally acclaimed as among the greatest and most influential in cinema. A stellar reputation preludes the strong possibility of disappointment; can anyone ever live up to such significant hyping? Ingmar Bergman is widely regarded as one of his medium’s finest artists, and yet his significant body of work was something I—for these very reasons—had never dared traverse.