The notion of a ‘minor work’ is misleading.  For what is ‘minor’?  Claire Denis’ latest film, White Material, deals head-on with a white woman struggling through an unnamed African country’s revolution and civil war.  There is death, violence, and a family devastated by sweeping political change they can’t begin to understand.  In contrast, her previous film, 35 Shots of Rum, is about an ad-hoc family unit consisting of four individuals dealing with their relationship to each other.  White Material is an excellent film, to be sure, but it never reaches the level of emotional bliss and devastation that 35 Shots of Rum achieves.  The fact is, a great director can mould the smallest story into something massive in impact and beauty.  So pardon me whilst I gush about this work.  It was my favourite film of 2009, and considering it was originally released in 2008, I can say it was my favourite film of that year as well.   Oh, and spoilers abound, so if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. Read the rest of this entry »

Inception

July 22, 2010

Not since Christopher Nolan’s own Dark Knight have I seen as much internet brew-ha-ha over a film.  It’s enough to make me want to pull what’s left of my hair out.  Ultra-fanboys and reactionary haters have drawn their lines, almost forcing the large quantity of folk in the middle to choose a side based on which one is less annoying.  I have to admit that I have had little time for this kind of debate, and while drinking up the plethora of reviews and post-mortems and meta-discussions, I have now forced myself to ignore comment sections completely.  Those reviews and articles have brought to the surface of a number of questions about fan-based opinion, the credibility of the remaining professional critics, what kind of standards are applied to what type of movie, and of course the degree to which backlash plays a role in influencing opinion.  There’s a lot to unpack, but I think the best way to deal with Inception right now is to attempt to recount my first impressions upon leaving the cinema.  This is, despite a lot of people’s desire to defend it and attack it as such, not an art film.  It is a $200 million summer thriller whose purpose is, first and foremost, to entertain.  As with virtually every other review posted around the web, it should be noted that spoilers will abound, so if you’ve not seen it, do not read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Predators and Killers

July 15, 2010

John McTiernan’s tight, sparse and commendably pure Predator still stands as one of the finer action achievements of the 1980s, and though it has been sullied by a grim sequel borne out of the Jason Takes Manhattan mode and a pair of cinematic abortions that shall not be mentioned by title here, the simple concept still has allure.  For those living under a rock, it is basically a sci-fi Most Dangerous Game, with honour-bound but ruthless dreadlocked aliens hunting humanity’s finest killers.  While the original was happy for our heroes to tangle with a singular beast, Nimrod Antal’s Predators takes a cue from the Alien franchise by pluralizing both the title as well as the number of predators. Read the rest of this entry »