Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scream and Shout

The Film Festival has arrived and I am happy. After the disappointment at my lean pickings last year, I have now the opportunity and the desire to indulge in the movies I want to see. And with time in my hands, I've set the goal of watching ten! Here are reviews for the first few. (Don't worry, no spoilers!)


Despite my disgust at most modern branding, I seem to strongly, and perhap hypocritically, follow particular bands, writers and certain products to extreme levels. Whether it be my complete collections of some musicians whom I consider genius, to buying 4-packs of Phoenix Ginger Beer to drink at home (and in cinemas!), there are some names that sparkle to me as if I were a magpie in a tree. When I saw Park Chan-Wook had a movie in the film festival guide, it was the only movie to earn an emphatic Yes! without consideration for content. Considering Almodovar, a well-regarded director didn't earn more than a cursory look, it should show my dedication. Park Chan-Wook earnt my adulation with Old Boy. He always brings a creatively violent, humorously gory take on what he does. Thirst is a vampire-priest tale - but one creatively and warmly done. How he came to be a vampire might have been a little unbelieveable, but how he deals with his problem, trying to avoid sinning in the process is amusing. Love enters, and love corrupts, and then there is no end of evil that can unfold. Moral: Being a vampire is not as fun as it first appears to be, and you'll be waiting for the other shoe to drop. A lot of blood is ceremoniously spilt. I love his characters too, the old matriarch of the family in particular.

Drag me to hell!

Horror is a genre that I rarely dip into. I was exposed to a good deal of horror movies in my childhood: my eldest sister indulging her fascination with it and, in doing so, filling my nightmares. Well, that is probably overstating it, but the truth is that I've always been of a jumpy, nervy disposition, and despite enjoying the thrill, I tend to spasm in shock at even a ruffle of paper on screen, and sometimes will seek leave of the room when there is an impending shock. The director cues me up with a soundtrack and a sense of foreboding, and I dance.

It was probably over 5 years since I last saw a horror in the cinema - and within the first five minutes of Drag me to hell, I was reminded of the usual way that I experience horror: in contortions. It was a proper horror movie, with all the traditional bells and whistles of horror. It was a sustained burst of adrenalin to the heart, enlivening, even though at times predictable.


As mentioned, I'm a name-dropping viewer. Sam Rockwell's name was my sole reason for watching this. He has dynamism on screen, and I've enjoyed him in other movies. Moon is about one man, Sam Bell, operating a Helium mining operation on the moon. And apart from the robot, Gerty, he is alone, bleakly isolated from Earth, his wife and daughter with two weeks remaining till he goes home, a long two weeks. He hallucinates; he talks to himself and his plants; yet messages from home drive him on. However, while on a routine trip in a moon buggy to a rock harvester, he has an accident and makes a rather astonishing discovery.

I enjoyed this movie. It never seemed to slow despite it essentially being the same actor on screen all the time. It also touches on many ethical issues about what technology could bring to us.

There is an odd background in the movie too: the director is David Bowie's son, christened Zowie Bowie (although apparently he changed his name since). David Bowie, of course, was made famous by the hit Space Oddity ("Ground Control to Major Tonk") and has other songs about life in space. An influence, perhaps?

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