- La science des rêves (The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry, 2006)
- Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)
- Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986)
- Mimic (Guillermo del Toro, 1997)
- Italianetz (The Italian, Andrei Kravchuk, 2005)
- The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
- Scénario du film 'Passion' (53min, Jean-Luc Godard, 1982)
- Almodovóvar on Almodovóvar (Revised edition, 2006, Frédéric Strauss)
Scénario du film 'Passion'
Showing as part of the Centre Pompidou Video Art 1965-2005, on exhibition at ACMI until 27 May. Not having seen any Godard films yet, I don't have contextual appreciation of this documentary, but am keen to catch them when possible. The following is from the ACMI website:
Scénario du Film Passion (1982)
Videotape, colour, sound, 53:24 min
Retraces the writing and production of Godard's controversial 1982 film Passion.
Jean-Luc Godard produced Scénario du film Passion as a commentary on the creative process behind his 1982 film Passion. As he retraces the writing and production process, viewers are offered a fascinating glimpse into the world of one of cinema's most innovative artists.
Jean-Luc Godard is renowned as one of the key members of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), the influential group of French filmmakers, theorists and critics in the late 1950s and 1960s. Although widely known for his feature films, Godard is also the author of approximately thirty videos, many of which were produced specifically for television.
The Science of Sleep
Michel Gondry, himself a native of France has both written and directed his first feature film set in France using French, Spanish and English languages. While he has produced some fantastic music videos, and his previous Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a big success here (The Nova Cinema had a phenomenal six-month run with it), I don't find The Science of Sleep up to the standard of his previous film.
Gael García Bernal is a tremendously talented actor and I've loved every performance I've seen from him in films such as Amores perros, Y tu mamá también, El crimen del padre Amaro, Diarios de motocicleta, La mala educación, Babel and especially The King (which I ranked my second favourite film of 2006). His performance is fine in The Science of Sleep, but I think that the film is adversely affected by Gondry's writing. He is not as good a writer as he is a director. And comparing the film to Eternal Sunshine is perhaps not fair as the earlier film had the brilliant Charlie Kaufman as writer (as did the earlier Human Nature). After all, it's rare that a film is celebrated for its writer (as is anything by Kaufman) rather than its director.
Bernal's character as a Mexican in France (who speaks little French) just doesn't seem quite right. It feels almost like the director likes the actor and wants to include him in the film, even if he isn't the best choice. The casting would have worked better in an English-language film.
The story in The Science of Sleep shows a style similar to Eternal Sunshine - a weird and quirky convergence of thoughts and reality which often collide, but there is a thread of coherence lacking in the current film.
Still, there are many positives in the film - the casting generally is good and the concept is inventive and bizarre. The cinematography is appealling, though some might find the animation too similar to the style of music videos. It will appeal to some and not others - I don't think it was completely successful. The film is overall quite entertaining but not as engaging as it could have been. I found it worth-seeing, at least for its originality.
I haven't really thought much of a Danny Boyle film since his sublime Trainspotting, so I didn't go into this with high expectations. I was prepared to suspend many of my critical faculties, but still the film disappointed. It starts off with promise, though the heavy-handed use of sound and music, as well as the hip-look and 'over-abundance of manliness' of the space travellers were distracting. The lack of the lack of gravity I was also prepared to overlook. I could even overlook the gold-coloured space-suits (gold is heat-absorbing, whereas silver is heat-reflecting). These weren't the main problems, unfortunately.
Around half way through the film, it goes off on a tangent from a 2001-wannabe (and borrows heavily from that great film) to an Alien-wannabe. Not only did this stretch credibility beyond the tolerable, but the film then employs the MTV school of editing technique where cross-cutting becomes almost epilepsy-inducing and fails to disguise the poor plot. I found the film a waste of time.
Until now, The Insider is the only Mann film I'd liked - I found Heat ridiculously over-the-top and Collateral ridiculously contrived and visually unappealing. I didn't see Miami Vice because it held no appeal (especially after Heat and Collateral) and I didn't see Ali because (1) I'm not a big fan of so-called biopics, and (2) I remember what Mohammed Ali looked like and it was nothing like Will Smith.
So I went to Melbourne Cinémathèque with fairly low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. I didn't know that this was the film that was virtually remade as Silence of the Lambs, which I liked a lot. Manhunter has dated more than that film, particularly the music and clothing. However, I found it very chilling, and some of the characterisations more interesting than the remake. Brian Cox's Lektor and William Petersen's Will Graham were both excellent. Hopkins' characterisation seems almost cartoonish in comparison to Cox, though the journalist's role was a bit cartoonish in Mann's film. There were a few contrivances (like Graham jumping through the window) that I could easily overlook because the film was so effective in keeping me on the edge of my seat. The film could also have benefited from a bit of tighter editing as the end seemed a little drawn out, but that's a small criticism. I found the film edgier than Mann's more recent work and compelling viewing.
I wasn't planning to see this, but changed my mind after a strong recommendation. I was one of only six people in ACMI's larger cinema 2. I love empty cinemas (mind you, I love full ones too, but that's a different experience). And the film wasn't too bad at all... for a Hollywood horror film.
Mimic was the next film del Toro made after Cronos, and he used various themes in common with that film. A grandfather and his grandchild, warm orange tones, religious icons, objects wrapped in plastic bags and insects (including one that attacks a protangist's hand). In fact, some of these seem to appear in later films also (remember the insects in Pan's Labyrinth?). As does his meticulous attention to detail. I found the film genuinely scary, and there were times I felt like leaving the cinema. I do get emotionally involved in the cinematic experience, and maybe that's why I'm not a big fan of the genre.
Mind you, there's always exceptions. What is interesting about Mimic is that it is made by a serious director of that genre who has made his own mark right from the start. Seen in that context, even though this specific film is clearly a studio film, it retains del Toro's style and vision. Seeing it has definitely enhanced my appreciation of del Toro, though I still stand by my criticisms of Pan's Labyrinth, his most celebrated film to date.
Perusing online, I couldn't have worded better what David Greven writes at 24LiesASecond: "Examined individually, each of his films seems deeply flawed and even failed. Yet when taken together—arranged and assembled as a vast quilt of images—they achieve a nightmarish splendor that demands recognition."
After Jump Street Films previous The King (which made it into my top 10 films of 2006) and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, I was expecting to like this film more than I did, particularly as it has reputedly won more than 30 awards to date.
It's the tale of a six year old boy left in an orphanage who decides to try to find his birth mother. The film looked good and the characters were generally quite good, especially the young boy. A couple of characters seemed a little caricatured, and maybe the target audience in the film is quite young. My six-year old boy liked the film a lot, though I covered his eyes for a violent scene at the end.
The film didn't engage me greatly, and I found the plausibility stretched with what the boy was able to achieve.
The Night of the Hunter
This is the last of the three films selected by Guillermo del Toro as films that have influenced him for the ACMI season ending today. It was great seeing Robert Mitchum playing such a role of pure evil and terror in the form of a preacher. Check out the tattoos on his fingers.
Shelley Winters was also convincing as the insecure middle-aged mother, similar to the character she depicted seven years later in Kubrick's Lolita. This was the only film directed by Charles Laughton. I find it both surprising and disappointing that nothing followed Hunter, which apparently was not successful at the box office.
The film is very theatrical and largely predictable, but that doesn't detract from the its enjoyment. If anything, it increases the dread. And it looks great in black and white.