Under the Skin

April 16, 2014

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Despite a very, very limited feature film career (three, actually, with the last one being 10 years ago), Jonathan Glazer can comfortably consider himself the most self-consciously Kubrickian auteur working today.  It’s not an easy style to go after, obviously, and it speaks to his talents that on the basis of, really, two films (Under the Skin and Birth, though I haven’t seen it since it came out I feel Sexy Beast is memorable for a performance rather than visuals) that this quality can be considered a positive rather than an affront.  It’s all the more impressive when you consider the tonal consistency of Under the Skin considering it’s essentially three different films cut into halves.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Joe

April 12, 2014

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Scanning the blurbs on a Critic Aggregate Site sees a lot of talk of David Gordon Green’s Joe being a “return to form” for its star Nicolas Cage, who has been much harried and parodied by the internet and by extension the broader cultural spectrum for some years now.  It’s not without merit, to be sure; his style is often over-the-top, and the often dire material he finds himself working with just to get a paycheck hasn’t invited him to “tone it down”, as it were.  The mistake is assuming that bad material is the same as bad acting, and Cage is not now nor has ever been a bad actor.  Different, to be sure, but “bad” denotes someone without gifts doing something they don’t understand.  I’ve never had that impression from Cage.  Joe is probably his best work when it comes to finding something deeper in the character, but then the material is suited for that.  It’s not a particularly successful film, but there’s a basis for the critical plaudits currently being laid upon it.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Missing Picture

April 10, 2014

 

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“There is no truth. Only cinema.”

Spoken by the narrator of Rithy Panh’s part-documentary, part-poetic memoir, The Missing Picture, the line refers to the footage of the collective farms taken by the cameramen of the Khmer Rouge depicting a working, productive society of ‘revolutionary’ comrades.  It’s a distillation of the thesis of Panh’s towering work on the traumatic history of his country and his youth that also functions as a withering riposte as well as a backhanded agreement to Jean Luc Godard’s belief that cinema failed by not capturing the concentration camps of the Holocaust.  After all, if the Nazis had filmed it, would they not have obstructed some elemental truth of it in favour of propaganda?  Even if they hadn’t, what would the value of seeing it have?  Using clay figures in miniature settings to depict his time as a teenager moving around the collectivist farms and eventually forests of Khmer Rouge Cambodia (or, rather, Democratic Kampuchea as it was known), Panh laments the false images captured by the government and attempts to reclaim the artistic representation of the atrocity.  Read the rest of this entry »