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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pink Matter

Hey!

Two blog posts in one week. Surely this can't be the same blog can it?!

So in between my two blog posts all I did really was work and see a couple of movies. I don't feel nearly as comfortable seeing a film at home as I do in the cinema now. It may have something to do with going out to see films so much that seeing a movie at home feels less spectacular. Eh...

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I recently finished playing Naughty Dog's new game, The Last of Us, which I quite liked but still found a bit unsettling like its story and change of play-style. You can opt for action or stealth moments with the latter being far more beneficial. The problem with this is that the action segments of the game (where you basically are forced to use your weapons) become a bit more difficult. That said, I did play the game on "Hard" difficulty so perhaps I don't have anything to complain about. I think thematically some of the things they explore is pretty interesting though I'm not sure they did it as well as they thought they did. I dunno, I still prefer Bioshock Infinite as my preferential game of the year thus far. That said, loved the opening moments of The Last of Us - super reminiscent of Children of Men. CINEMATIC GAMING.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


If you've followed this blog or any of my other online profiles, you'll know that Stoker was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Park Chan-wook is among one of my favourite directors to watch and though I haven't gotten around to seeing all of his films (I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay always escapes me!), I think that they're all great to some degree. As time has progressed, a lot of what makes Park so accessible is his keen eye for visual and aural excess, which hit its peak with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and continues to show with his new, debut American feature film, Stoker.

Park's fascination with sex and murder, a continuous motif seen throughout most of his films, is extremely evident in Stoker. If there were any parallels that had to be drawn between Stoker and any of Park's previous films, then it would have to be with the film that preceded this one - Thirst (another exceptional Park film). The story revolves around India Stoker, a precocious and enigmatic young girl, and the arrival of her equally mysterious uncle, Charlie, on the day of her father's funeral. In spite of an admittedly clunky script, the film is darkly fun all throughout thanks to the directorial whims of Park and his stellar cast. That said, I think Nicole Kidman's performance required a fair amount of alcohol cause she seemed drunk for most of the film (which in a way is kind of appropriate).

It's completely a Park Chan-wook film from start to finish and, for a lot of the film, felt very Korean in terms of acting, setting and atmosphere. Interestingly enough, isn't much of a thriller and more of a coming-of-age story for India (coming-of-age in the strangest possible way, of course). The recurring image of the spider and the fly is something that's interesting to note as well (an argument can be made as to whether or not the spider is Uncle Charlie or India herself).

I liked Stoker, though perhaps not nearly as much as I would have liked. I do think that the film fits in well with the rest of Park's filmography and if we're lucky, maybe we'll even get a spiritual sequel of sorts as Park is teasing the idea of having a "coming-of-age" trilogy that started with I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay. Hrm, maybe I do need to see it now....


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Those familiar with the on-screen story of Jesse and Celine will have no doubt marked their calenders for the impending arrival of the third film in Richard Linklater's Before series. The third film of the beloved series, Before Midnight, takes place nine years after the events of Before Sunset. The pair are vacationing in Greece and, like the previous films, spend their days talking about romance though this film is unlike the previous two. The first film was brilliant as a deconstruction of romance within a romantic film and in the process ironically romanticised the meet-cute scenario of Jesse and Celine. The second was more or less an extension of this but with the third film, a dramatic tension underscores the rest of the film, bursting in an argument between Jesse and Celine that made me worry (in the best possible way, though!).

Previous films have been praised for their level of realism and honesty and Before Midnight takes it up a notch further. Before Midnight sees Jesse and Celine, for the first time, truly interacting with characters around them and engaging in conversation with them. They allow for their their musings of love and romance, spill over across a dinner table of varied people, young and old. This scene, along with many others in the film, demonstrate a great display of acting. Trying to maintain a semblance of normality and to carry conversation in a way that seems authentic is in my view a very hard thing to do. Add to that the amount of dialogue you have to remember for these long, uninterrupted and unobtrusive takes! So yeah, I commend Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for doing what they did here and with the previous films.

Before Midnight takes the discourse of love and adds in the modern element - it isn't so much about what love means but rather how its evolved. Furthermore, with regards to Jesse and Celine's personal story, the weight of parenthood also looms over the film, an idea that probably would not have had much implication on the Jesse and Celine we came to love in 1994. The conversation has matured and the characters - and therefore the actors - have matured even more. Though the things they talk about may often seem funny to the audience, its very much real and painful to hear for the characters involved. Even in hindsight, it's a bit hard to hear.

Before Midnight almost effectively ends the trilogy that Delpy, Hawke and Linklater started in 1994. The film of course ends on an ambiguous note but it leaves much to think about. With standout performances, assured directing and an honestly cynical script, one has to believe that an Oscar nomination isn't too far off for one of cinema's most enduring and realised romances.

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No more film news for me - I'm done with it. I know some people have noted that I was their source of film news but I suppose Twitter has been good for me to spout any rumblings in the world of film.

Today's title comes from Frank Ocean's great album, Channel Orange. It's one of the best songs on the album, in my opinion. ENJOY THE WEEK AHEAD!


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