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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Take Us Back

Hi world.

This'll be a pretty short post (short by my standard anyway, maybe long still to others) cause I'm a really boring person and I didn't get up to much this week. 

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Shiina Ringo's birthday went by this week! She turned 34 but it's amazing how young she still looks... I thought her birthday was worth mentioning cause if you know me then you know how much admiration I have for this woman and her music. So yeah, obligatory mention for her because she is the actual queen of Japan. Anyways enjoy a video of her singing one of my favourite songs of hers.

Sidenote: YouTube cracked down on a LOT of Shiina Ringo videos a few months ago and this and a handful of others are the only ones that remain. Copyright stuff with her label, it seems. Shame.


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Bought Telltale Games' The Walking Dead computer game through Steam this week too and finished it in a couple of days. The sale they had for it at the time was a pretty good incentive to buy all five episodes of the game (the fifth and final episode was released a few days previous).

Really loved the game. I don't think that I have ever felt completely engrossed within a game's story until I played this game and I must say, that Telltale Games have something special with the product that they've created. There will be critics out there who will say that The Walking Dead isn't a proper game in the traditional sense but as far as choices/morality in gameplay goes (something that has become extremely popular in recent years), nothing comes close to reaching the emotional wallop that The Walking Dead provides.


Simply put, it's one of the best games I've had the privilege of playing this year and if I could, I'd give it my vote for Game of the Year (even though I haven't really played every/enough 2012 titles). Maybe one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. This game comes highly recommended and I really feel like writing more at length about the title but maybe I'll save it for another time. Can't wait for the "second season" of the game.

FYI: Much better than the television show that's currently airing at the moment, even if the core narrative isn't necessarily "original". At least Season 3 feels like a significant step up from the meandering second season.


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Also does anybody hate the new layout for YouTube or is it just me? Like... I didn't actually mind the previous layout and I'm sure in a month I'll get used to this one (I don't even remember if I complained about the previous layout or not) but I mean how many more changes do they need to make?! I mean, aesthetically speaking, it doesn't look quite visually pleasing. I dunno. 
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


This week, I watched three films from the upcoming Japanese Film Festival here in Melbourne running between 29 November - 9 December. My brief thoughts on Seisaku's Wife, Afro Tanaka and Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer can all be found in a piece I wrote for Meld Magazine about the Japanese Film Festival which you can read all about at this link
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There wasn't much in the way of film news this week that was worth mentioning here so I'll just end this post here and you can all enjoy this song which is this week's blog post title. It's from The Walking Dead game and it's a lovely track by Alela Diane but, for anyone whose played the game, it harbours some pretty distressing memories from it that I'm still reeling from.  


End post.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Mean Spirits

Hello.

Yeah, so these blog posts are pretty much going up every Tuesday now it seems. I don't have time to post on the weekends these days mostly because I spend Saturday at work and then Sunday out with friends or at ACMI (in case anyone wanted a solid reason for my not posting every weekend).

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I was helping out a friend from uni with a video skit he was shooting on Monday afternoon. Lovely day for a shoot but after standing in the sun all day, I got burnt pretty terribly and my face was just rotting the whole day. It was pretty bad. Hell I'm still suffering from it. But anyways, I was acting in the short so maybe I'll post it here when his channel goes live. Woo.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

I don't have the time to write fully written reviews this week so I'll just state a few thoughts of what I did get around to seeing this week. I've been trying to get into a Japanese cinema funk to prepare myself for the impending Japanese Film Festival (which touches down in Melbourne on the 29th of November) and have managed to see other films in between.

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A very tough film to sit through and that's not because of its content but because of the sheer fact that it's a gruel three - four hours of meaninglessness. Director Shinji Aoyama mistakes length for depth, I feel, which is quite a shame considering how well constructed the opening moments of the film are. Eureka has divided many people though and while I'm clearly on the side of those who hate the film, I'd encourage others to form their own opinion about it. I mean, I can certainly see why other people would be taken with it. It just wasn't for me. Apparently the second part of a trilogy, which I find interesting yet if Eureka is what sets the tone for the trilogy then consider me sceptical. My opinion of a worthy, lengthy Japanese opus? Love Exposure.


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Reasons for watching Harmful Insect included a young Aoi Miyazaki and director Akihiko Shiota whose film, Canary, has been on my watch-list for some time now. As far as the film goes, it's not particularly impressive and, in my opinion, is essentially like a lighter version of All About Lily Chou-Chou, just a lot less nihilistic. This kind of film has been done before and done much better but I suppose it's much more teen-friendly. Aoi Miyazaki shows her capabilities as an actress even at such a young age (correct me if I'm wrong but I think she may have been 15 at the time of filming). Her best performance still belongs to Sukida though, I think.


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Continued with my venture into Ozu's filmography with Early Summer. Compared to Late Spring - the first Ozu film I ever saw with Early Summer being the second - I feel that there was something about Early Summer that was amiss. For me, it felt a lot like a rehash of Late Spring albiet with a more lighthearted and humorous demeanour. Still, I feel that Late Spring was a much more refined film and a far more accomplished work. Not knocking off Early Summer though. I mean I really love the Ozu aesthetic and I don't think I will tire of it any time soon.


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Another film that has been sitting on the top of my watch pile for a long time. Linda Linda Linda's strength arguably lies in its unassuming modesty and is overall a warm delight from the tense and abrasive Japanese films I've seen as of late. Though many may feel the film to be a bit of a slump, I thought the film moved at quite an even pace and that it allowed the charm and personalities of our heroines to shine. Korean actress Bae Doona steals the film and comes off as being the most refreshing character in Linda Linda Linda. Also features a lovely soundtrack with original music composed by former Smashing Pumpkins' guitarist James Iha. Look out for an appearance by Kenichi Matsuyama too and a brief mention of Shiina Ringo.


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Argo has been touted as one of the year's best films and is a prime contender come awards season. Does it live up to the hype that has been bestowed on it? Yes it does. While I feel that the Hollywood segment of the film put a slight hindrance on the film (the odd mix of comedy and thriller certainly felt antagonistic for me), there's no denying the directorial efforts Ben Affleck has over the film. From the attention to detail that the production boasts - effortlessly recreating the look of the period - to the stressfully taut control of tension, Affleck tells a fascinating story in the face of a revolution.


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One of my favourite films that I've seen this year and one that I'm glad to say that I saw in the cinema. The Intouchables is a heartwarming story about an unlikely relationship between two men from different walks of life. It's already been praised all over the world and it's not hard to see why The Intouchables has left an indelible mark on movie-goers. Sweet and sincere, The Intouchables tells a very simple story yet is so charming that you can't help but feel great about life upon leaving the cinema. Omar Sy is fantastic in the film as the Driss, the caretaker of the disabled gentleman, Philippe. It was a definite crowd-pleaser at my screening and had everyone in the audience tearing with laughter. Such a refreshing change from all the dour films I've seen lately.


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Will leave out Tidbits of Film News for this week. Anyways, the title of this week's post comes from from Silversun Pickups' latest album, Neck of the Woods. I believe they just finished touring Australia (they were part of the Harvest Festival lineup) and I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get to see them live but that's what I get for not wanting to go to on my own to things that aren't cinemas.


End post.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Auditorium

Howdy all.

This last week's been pretty quiet for the most part but hey, I got around to watching a few more films which is always a plus, right? Almost seems like I'm posting every Tuesday/Wednesday now. HRMMMM...
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Friday night was pretty darn fun though. I was at a friend's going away party (she's an international student) and it was a nice night with some of my pals from uni. That's her above in the picture there with yours truly. She was my production manager for the little doco I made earlier on in the year. She's a great person and is always fun to be around. I hope she does well in life and hope to see her again!

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Oh and if you're a fan of Evangelion who's reading this blog right now and you're living in Australia, preferably in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne well then I've got some good news!  Madman Entertainment, in conjunction with NTV Films, Japan Foundation Sydney, Arts Centre Gold Coast and Gold Coast Film Festival is set to bring a special Evangelion exhibition to Australia next year. 

The exhibit will highlight the production process of the new Evangelion films from conceptual art to production notes. Also included at the exhibit will be a collection Evangelion memorabilia and other prized artefacts from the show and films.

A date for Melbourne has yet to be confirmed but the Gold Coast City Gallery will host the exhibit from 17 April - 5 May 2013 while the Japan Foundation Art Gallery in Sydney will host it from May 10 - May 18. Get excited guys. I am. SO EXCITED.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


It is amazing to think a film like Before Sunrise exists at all. How a film about two young travellers talking the entire time can remain both intellectually stimulating and emotionally heartfelt is something to be marvelled at. And then to replicate that same formula - albeit with a completely different agenda - with a sequel, Before Sunset, that takes place literally nine years after the first yet still remains to be justly compelling (and not a complete rehash of the original) is actually quite impressive. For all intents and purposes, the second film technically should not be as successful as it's predecessor - which in my mind stands as one of the great romance stories told on film.

In Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine meet on a train only for Jesse to proposition to Celine that they disembark at Vienna and spend the entire day with each other before Jesse has to return to America. The two aimlessly wander around Vienna. They become familiar with one another, ruminate about the concept of love while simultaneously falling for one another in the process. It's a largely bittersweet affair, however, once we and our two characters accept the fact that this may be their only night together.


It's not a long film but it is a film that rewards those with the patience to watch the story of Jesse and Celine unfold at a freakishly natural pace. Director Richard Linklater does an outstanding job in Before Sunrise, tightly controlling the almost improvised performances of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Linklater favours long takes, tracking his leads and their conversations which in turn allows every nuance from the film's impeccable script to flourish. Never does the film stifle or lose it's footing which seems almost bewildering considering the fact that it is a completely dialogue-driven film. As someone who admires the art of discourse, it's an absolute treat.

Before Sunset, the sequel to Before Sunrise, looks strikingly similar to the first though much of the film feels more poignant than its predecessor and that's perhaps due to the growth of these characters. Jesse and Celine are now older and more mature, but not necessarily any wiser. Jesse is now an accomplished writer, touring across Europe promoting his new book. They meet once again, this time at a book store in Paris where Jesse is doing publicity for the press.


Elements of Before Sunrise seep into Before Sunset - the long takes, the conversations and the naturalistic acting all remain here. In addition to the film being set nine years after the original, it has also meant that the time in between not only allows for the characters to mature but the actors themselves.

Before Sunset's screenplay, written by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy adds much depth and further characterisation of Celine and Jesse. It's obvious that Hawke and Delpy both care for these characters as much as fans of the series are, if not more so. Linklater, Hawke and Delpy all earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2005. And with age comes experience - Hawke and Delpy not only weave their own personal stories into the overall narrative of Before Sunset but they also add their growth and maturity as actors which actually emphatically highlights their characters' arcs.


Before Sunrise/Before Sunset are both fantastic films. Thoughtfully engaging and never pandering to the audience with cliche or tried-and-true formulas, both films complement one another rather beautifully. The story of Jesse and Celine is told with such tenderness and rich in subtext. The particularities and details of Jesse and Celine's romance is so strong that the magic of the world that Linklater and company have created unquestionably made me want to immediately return to their world as soon as the film(s) finished.

The third film, Before Midnight, is tentatively set to be released sometime next year, another nine years after Before Sunset and 18 years after Before Sunrise. You can bet I'll be there for that! I haven't included the trailers below but for some reason, I think not watching the trailers is a much better idea. Maybe just IMDB it or something cause I know I didn't watch the trailers before watching it and was left enamoured. But I can't say you'll feel the same way.

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Last blog post I talked about Punch Drunk Love and how taken away I was with the minimalistic nature of the film and was enamoured by its charming simplicity. Following Punch Drunk Love, Paul Thomas Anderson made There Will Be Blood a film that's essentially the exact opposite of his previous effort. There's no minimalism here as Paul Thomas Anderson goes all out and provides what is his most ambitious film to date (that is of course, once I see The Master which in itself looks just about as ambitious as TWBB).

A period film set during a time of rapid expansion in America, TWBB is a peculiar film from the onset. The first fifteen - twenty minutes or so of the film are completely devoid of any dialogue, instead letting the story unfold through its imagery. We see men slowly descending further into the earth, digging for oil which in essence reads like a larger metaphor for the arc and progression of Daniel Plainview - the ruthlessly selfish and egotistical protagonist of TWBB. What unravels soon thereafter is a fascinating character study of a man consumed by greed, so much so that he is willing to do a lot of questionably diabolical acts to keep his wealth. Plainview, in essence, is capitalism personified.

It's interesting that, in the face of America's establishment of an oil industry - which I would assume was a humbly prosperous age for America - we are presented with someone whose ideals represent some of the ugliest qualities of humanity. By the end of the film, Plainview is stripped of his soul, devoid of any sense of love in his life despite the wealth he's carved himself - an ironically worthless being. Although perhaps what's more interesting is that TWBB, from my perspective, is less about the greed of men and is more a film grounded on the ideas pertaining towards fatherhood and the burdens that the children take on from their fathers. And I think the fact that there is a strong religious overtone to the film certainly perpetuates that idea that TWBB is indeed a study of fatherhood. For me, this particular reading of the film was far more interesting than Plainview's ego trip (and if I were to try and elaborate  it'd probably become an essay).


Daniel Day Lewis plays the role with stunning resolute. The darkness that lurks within Plainview is almost terrifying and for his portrayal of Daniel Plainview, DDL was righteously rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2007. Paul Dano, who plays a profiteering preacher, is also good in his role but when put up against the ferociousness of DDL's performance, it's clear that he's no where near the calibre of DDL. Although to be fair, the combination of DDL and a period picture essentially means automatic brilliance.

While TWBB isn't my absolute favourite PTA film, I can certainly recognise the brilliance of this film. I personally prefer Anderson's more idiosyncratic films but this is perhaps his most formal feature to date. But really, what else is there to say about TWBB that hasn't already been said by many in the past? From its subtle cinematography to Jonny Greenwood's (from Radiohead) outstanding original score for the film, TWBB triumphs as an American classic. Film lovers will eventually have to see this film.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


Here's the second full-length feature trailer for Tom Hooper's musical extravaganza, Les Miserables. The production looks utterly gorgeous and while I had my reservations about the film early on, I've gone and done a complete 180 on this and am completely behind it now after seeing this trailer. Everything looks exquisite and well, I am actually looking forward to seeing this now. No doubt it'll be in contention at next year's Oscars by the looks of things.


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Also the first full trailer for World War Z. I've wanted to read the actual novel it was based on for a long time now and never got around to it but as far as my understanding of the novel goes, the film doesn't look anything remotely like the novel. While that part doesn't necessarily rub me the wrong way or even affect me, the fact that this looks like a very generic zombie film does little to get me interested. In fact it looks a lot like any other Resident Evil movie and doesn't look to offer anything else. Don't get me started on the tower of zombies that try to climb over each other. Silly.


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Instead here's an alternative in Warm Bodies, a kind of zombie romantic comedy which looks like it has more promise than World War Z. An extremely interesting inversion of the traditional zombie film (protagonist is a zombie, complete with strange internal monologues) and he falls in love with a human survivor. Things get bizarre and funny and awesome. It's directed by 50/50 director, Jonathan Levine, and stars Nicolas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich. Kinda Zombieland-esque vibe but this looks like it could be fun.


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Park Chan-wook isn't the only Korean director making a move to the States next year. Kim Ji-woon, director of such films as A Bittersweet Life and The Good, The Bad, The Weird makes his American feature debut next year with The Last Stand (or Arnie's comeback action movie). If this trailer is anything to go by, then I'm sure Kim Ji-woon has plenty of action in him to bring State-side.

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And that's all this week! Now enjoy Auditorium by Mos Def, whcih is the title of this week's blog post. Ciao.


End post.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The River

Hi friends.

Again, I apologise for the late post although I have a pretty good reason for being away from the computer this week! I worked all evening through Saturday and spent my entire day in the city at ACMI and with friends afterwards. So like yeah, that should totally give a good reason for not being able to write this weekend (might not be able to have the same excuse next week though but ah well). Maybe with uni being over now I might be able to post on a more regular basis (read: sporadically during the week, a la Ellen Nakamura, as opposed to one every weekend.)

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Melbourne Cup just happened today and I DIDN'T WIN ANY MONIES. Okay that's not true, I won a bit but not as much as I should've, haha. I legitimately thought I would win more though cause the night before, I chose Green Moon, the eventual winner of the cup, based on it's name (green being my favourite colour). But turns out I circled the wrong horse, the one right next to it. Ah well. Somebody get me the wahhhhhhhhhmbulance.




Also Rose Byrne was at the Cup today! She was like an ambassador/special guest for Lexus or something. PRETTY THOUGH.

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Picked up a new Blu-ray player from JB Hi-Fi last week, one that was capable of playing Blu-ray discs from overseas. Which essentially means I'll be able to purchase Blu-rays produced by The Criterion Collection now!

For those that don't know, The Criterion Collection is a distribution company that treats its home releases with the utmost respect and care. The majority of their films are highly regarded works in the world of cinema and as such, they try to provide beautiful transfers, alternative cover art and a whole range of special features to cater for the cineaste out there. Needless to say, they're a pretty prestige brand and for a film to get the Criterion makeover is a big deal.


I've had this copy of Chungking Express from The Criterion Collection for a year now and imported it without knowing that my Playstation 3 was incapable of playing the film due to the region lock. So having re-watched bits and pieces of the film now, I can pretty much attest to the gloriousness that is the transfer of Wong Kar-wai's crazily infectious film.



Having said that, I think the top three films from Criterion's Blu-ray selection that I want/need are Secret Sunshine (South Korea, 2007), Still Walking (Japan, 2008) and of course, In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, 2010). Yes, obvious bias towards Asian cinema is obvious...

I'll be essentially double dipping with ITMFL (triple dipping if you're really keeping count at home) because I already have the Criterion copy of In the Mood for Love on DVD. Look, I just really like that film, okay? Also, let's petition for more Hirokazu Kore-eda for Criterion!

FUN FACT: Secret Sunshine is the first South Korean film to be given the Criterion makeover which I happen to think is an excellent choice (I loved the film when I saw it a few months ago and occasionally think about it).

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I also managed to pick up WWE 13 this week! I haven't owned/played a wrestling game since perhaps SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006. Coincidentally, that was around the time when I started to stop watching professional wrestling altogether. It wasn't until last year when I started watching it again though (yeah, it's all child's play but whatever).

Anyways, I'm really enjoying the game and it's reminded me why I really liked these games to begin with (I mean the creation options are seemingly endless - you can lose HOURS creating something within the game!). The Attitude Era campaign is especially cool. When I got into pro-wrestling, it was somewhere between 2000 or 2001 when the Attitude Era (basically a time when pro-wrestling was at the fringe of pop culture) was on its way to ending so it's nice to get a bit of a history lesson to see where things went and how they happened back in the day. Been losing a bit of sleep to this game. Only negative, haha.

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And I also managed to FINALLY get a copy of Runaways! It's only the first volume (with like another ten that I need to get) but it's a start! Runaways is about a group of children who abandon their homes when they find out that their parents are part of a villanous organisation called, "The Pride".

I found out about the series in high school which was when I started getting into reading comic books. I was doing some research on teenage comic books and Young Avengers and Runaways were on my priority list  but the only problem was money (trades can be pretty darn expensive, kids!).

I'm enjoying where things are going at the moment and I think it'll turn out to be something special. I... have far too many comics now. I need to have less hobbies/interests that require a consistent reliance on money. Comics, films and video games will be the death of me.

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If anyone wants to read about my thoughts on two films that I saw for the Greek Film Festival (which recently wrapped up here in Melbourne), you can find my reviews over at Meld Magazine. I liked both of the films that I saw (Fortunate Son and City of Children) but I think Alps was the strongest out of the three I watched (Alps isn't included in this article though). There was just something about it that was elusive that made me want to return to it. I don't think I was ready to leave that film which is odd because I initially had some ambivalence about it. I'd be keen to check out Dogtooth in the near future though.

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And I'm gonna lose so much credibility just by saying/mentioning this but it's had me kinda excited all week and I've already mentioned it enough on Tumblr. I've recently come into possession of both the Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors series'. Not weird at all.

Sailor Moon has five seasons, each of which contain around 40 episodes while Cardcaptors (or rather Cardcaptor Sakura) has just the one series and is 70 episodes long. Yes, they're extremely feminine anime shows but ya know what? They're pretty damn good! (You've lost your readership now.)

I'd say Cardcaptors is somewhat underrated while Sailor Moon is essentially Dragonball Z for girls but somehow even that comparison doesn't quite substantiate the legacy of Sailor Moon. Oh, look at me trying to defend my life choices, hehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Anywho, I don't think Australia aired all the episodes of Sailor Moon with the English dub or Cardcaptors for that matter (although I hear Cartoon Network Australia did with Cardcaptors). So I'll essentially be revisiting a few old episodes and watching new ones as well. But yeah exciting times in my life, clearly. 
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING



South Korea has been steadily producing bigger and better blockbusters since 1999. From Shiri to The Host to The Good, The Bad and The Weird to now with The Thieves, Korea's increasing expenditure on big blockbuster films now pits it in contention with Hollywood.

Since its release in its home country several months ago, The Thieves has become the highest grossing film in South Korean history. Assembling a star-studded cast, the film on the surface looks devilishly like Ocean's Eleven. It might look like a Hollywood film but of course, when it comes to Korean cinema, always expect the unexpected. 

Essentially a heist movie, The Thieves follows a group made up of thieves from Hong Kong and South Korea who are assembled to infiltrate a casino in Macau and steal a prized diamond. This set up might seem simple in its mechanics but increasingly becomes more and more intricate as the film paces forward. 

It's slow to begin and it might seem a little overstuffed with story but these blemishes are largely forgiveable in the grand scheme of things. The Thieves is a hugely entertaining piece of popcorn filmmaking and while it might not win any huge awards, the mere fact that it can boast a production the scale of a Hollywood tentpole feature is something to be admired. 

The final act of the film is where The Thieves truly excels as it uses all that we've learnt in the previous two acts and mixes up the action and story with tightly co-ordinated chases and gunfights. It plays with expectations and might leave you feeling surprised by the outcome of it all. It's almost as if the film is built on twists, an important feature of the film to point out, as these twists are what keep the film running at a reasonably high momentum. And by this point of the film, it sheds off the dead weight of most of its ensemble cast, leaving only a few important key players to languish in the spotlight.

It's not my favourite film of the year but it is one of the more entertaining ones (at least as far as action and comedy goes). It might seem weighty with its ideas and intermingled stories but it does a grand job of showcasing another side of Korean filmmaking to the world. The production value shows and, ocassionally, it is quite a beautiful film to look at (some may deem it artificial or glitzy but there's nothing wrong with sweeping shots of Macau at night). 

Fans of Korean cinema will want to check this one out (if they haven't already). And even if you're not a fan of Korean cinema - or foreign cinema in general - The Thieves might change your opinion about the kind of films a certain country is capable of making. 

As much as I don't want to use this comparison, it seems appropriate given the situation. If Gangnam Style can break the language barrier and become a worldwide smash hit, I would be more than happy if someone who wasn't formally aware of Korean cinema to be introduced to it through The Thieves. It has that appeal and that potential to break through and become something special.


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With The Master drawing closer and closer to release, I figured it was best to catch up with the rest of Paul Thomas Anderson's films this week. I started with Punch Drunk Love on Monday and am thinking of watching There Will Be Blood sometime later in the week. By then I'll have seen all his films just in time for The Master (although I plan on seeing The Master at the Astor Theatre a month after release since it'll be screening in it's original 70mm film format).

The thing I admire about PTA is the fact that he is an absolutely original director. He may borrow techniques and shots from other directors/films and incorporates them within his films but he does so in a way that seems almost effortless and completely his own. While someone like Quentin Tarantino blatantly uses the most obvious of shots and techniques to pay homage to his favourite films and filmmakers (not a shot at Tarantino at all, I love his films), Anderson uses them to tell original stories rather than amalgamations of stories from the past.

Punch Drunk Love is about a lonely and somewhat psychologically damaged man who falls in love with an English woman all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line and buying an abundant amount of chocolate pudding. It sounds ludicrous but, again, it comes back to PTA's mad brilliance as a storyteller.

Oddly enough, I feel like as though Punch Drunk Love might be the best of the PTA films that I've seen so far. I might have to change my mind when I see either There Will Be Blood or The Master but there seems to be something about Punch Drunk Love that elevates it above Anderson's previous films (sorry, Magnolia). I can't describe what it is, but perhaps it might be due to the very minimalistic quality of the film which, in itself, helps aid the elegantly subtle performance by Adam Sandler (yes, that Adam Sandler!). Sandler's performance is akin to that of Jim Carrey's in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind although I don't think Carrey could have been as good as Sandler was here.

The film goes beyond simply being a love story and is more of a character study. Barry Egan (played by Adam Sandler) is a compelling character. He's a bit nutty and has years of built up anger but he's a good-hearted man caught in the bizarre net of circumstances that befall him. And while his flirtation with Lena (played by Emily Watson) is a cute in itself, there's so much more going on that makes this film utterly engaging. From the visual nuances to the editing, it's the little things that make this movie, and other PTA movies, stand out as being films for film lovers.

I really enjoyed Punch Drunk Love, moreso than I thought I would. PTA's understanding of character and story is unparalleled and he will no doubt assert himself as one of the most revered filmmakers in history some day. A real delight and something I'd like to implore people to try and see.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

Slow clap for the return of Tidbits of Film News! Did anyone miss it? No? Really? Well, why am I even writing it up then?! Oh doesn't matter. Here's what's been going down in the last week.

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If you haven't heard by now, news broke last week that Disney bought out Lucasfilm for an estimated 4 billion dollars. Arguably the biggest piece of film news to have broken in recent memory, Disney have said that they plan on making on a brand new trilogy of Star Wars movies (reportedly set sometime after the events of Return of the Jedi) and, essentially, have major plans for more Star Wars-related media in the upcoming future. 

In some ways, this can be seen as a blessing. Disney, who now owns Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, will be able to produce more content for fans eager to see more. It also means that Disney will (at least try to) ensure that Star Wars remains a significant part of future generations' childhoods as much as Disney classics are. 

Concerning the films, Disney have said that Star Wars creator George Lucas, will stay on only as a creative consultant/producer. He won't have anything to do with the actual characters or direction that the series is headed, he'll just be kinda there to ensure things are at least in line with the universe he has created. Lucas hasn't done much with the series post-Prequel trilogy and has let the name flounder around so that he could make money from it so handing it over to a Disney might seem like a pretty smart move (at this point in George Lucas' career, he has enough money to hold him over for this lifetime and the next).  

When I first heard about the acquisition I was more surprised than shocked or outraged. Even now I feel somewhat undecided with how I feel about this whole situation but hopeful might be something I should express. I'm all for new Star Wars films (and at least the purists can be relieved that daddy George won't try to bastardise his own series) but at the same time, I can't help but feel just a bit cynical about the entire situation. 

While Disney's reputation as a monopolising corporation can be seen as somewhat unjust, I think people need to keep in mind Disney's reputation as a movie studio and the talent that they have/can acquire. Imagine if someone like Gore Verbinski brought the same imagination and entertainment he had for the first Pirates of the Caribbean to a Star Wars movie! I'd pay to see that. 

I think there are more positives than negatives in this purchase (someone will have to point to me the negatives). I can only hope things turn out well for the series. 

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Hey Wong Kar-wai fans, are you keen to see new footage from the Hong Kong auteur's long-gestating Yip Man biopic, The Grandmasters? Well have no fear as I'm here to bring to you the first full-length trailer for The Grandmasters! It's a thing of beauty even with all the slow-motion and bass drops. Some impressive sequences and a very stylistic take on the martial arts film. Have fun with this one.


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Anyone excited for Park Chan-wook's American debut with Stoker?! Yes? Well have a look at the magnificent poster for Stoker! More posters need to think a little bit different and think outside the box, I think. This is cool and most movie posters kinda aren't. Yes. Also, if you'd like to hear the first track from the official soundtrack for Stoker here it is. It's kinda really awesome. Ambience man, ambience. The video is so good - the creation of the poster + song + new footage from movie. AWWWW MAN.


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So apparently Steven Soderbergh is on his way to retiring from filmmaking. I'm not terribly familiar with Soderbergh (although I've seen his Ocean's trilogy and Traffic) but consider that in the last year he's kept himself incredibly busy pumping out three films (Magic Mike, Contagion and Haywire) with a fourth (the one I'm about to make mention of) on the way and another currently in production. 

Side Effects, starring Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It's kind of hard to describe what the film exactly is as the trailer doesn't quite lend itself to giving a description of the film. Just have a look. I'm mildly interested in this.

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And that's all for the week. This blog post title is brought to you by Parkway Drive's new album, Atlas. I love these guys. This music probably isn't for everyone though but like that's not my concern. LISTEN AND LOVE.


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