Cert: TBC Runtime: 88 mins Director: Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm & Jon Nguyen Cast: David Lynch
My cow is not pretty, but it is pretty to me
2017 truly has been the year of David Lynch, with the return of Twin Peaks, Mulholland Dr. & Blue Vevet re-releases and now David Lynch: The Art Life. For me he is the Hitchcock of the later 20th century and probably my all time favourite artist. So what is David Lynch: The Art Life about? David Lynch takes us on an intimate journey through the formative years of his life. From his idyllic upbringing in small town America to the dark streets of Philadelphia, we follow Lynch as he traces the events that have helped to shape one of cinema’s most enigmatic directors. David Lynch the Art Life infuses Lynch’s own art, music and early films, shining a light into the dark corners of his unique world, giving audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist.
The Art Life is absorbing, his childhood recollections are very open while Lynch creates his stark art pieces. It’s beautifully shot, methodically paced, with a rather unsettling quality. There is no external opinion to be had, as the film exists entirely in Lynch’s world. We see him making art, talking art, pondering art, and then making more art. He is obsessed, focused, but friendly and charming, whether in the midst of moulding a creepy canvas, groping his shock of white hair, planning his next canvas move in a cloud of smoke, or interacting with his tiny daughter. The mystery of Hollywood’s extreme outsider remains deliciously intact. If you are hoping for an exploration of the films of David Lynch, and of the filmmaker David Lynch, stay at home. Only David Lynch the neophyte filmmaker is explored because this is a natural development of the real star of the show – David Lynch the painter.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 129 mins Director: Terrence Malick Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett
The world wants to be deceived
From watching the trailer for Song To Song sometime ago I thought to myself, Malick has made a movie with structure! Then came SXSW and how wrong was I. After watching Knight of Cups last year I knew I was in for a headache, an artistic headache. Malick is a difficult film-maker to critic in my humble opinion. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the plot. Song To Song is by far Malick’s most stellar cast and probably this will be the main appeal of the film. So what is Song To Song about? Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress (Natalie Portman) whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.
It’s a film about the characters and their constant battle with themselves. The things we don’t see, the hell that goes through one’s mind, when one is suffering. They are struggling to get better, but it’s so sad because we know they won’t. They can’t get out. It’s about the spiritual journey of the characters and not so much about the story. It only goes where the character goes emotionally. Malick doesn’t care about the world around the characters or the society. The only worlds “well build” in the film are the character’s worlds. That’s why the V.O doesn’t seem like a technical intervention. It is the core of this beautiful, nostalgic and emotional poem to the ones who are “destined” to suffer. Malick depicts relationships in terms of fleeting moments that constantly move in and out of our consciousness, never quite tangible enough to grasp or provide satisfaction. Continually seeking their heart’s desire, the characters only slowly realize the emptiness of the promise. Underneath their search for connection, there is a spiritual longing that can be sensed but not understood.
Emmanuel Lubezki’s photography has an ethereal flow and a great eye for wide shots and tracking shots and utilises both of those to brilliant effect in Song to Song. There was also a great soundtrack throughout the film that had no rhyme or reason and most of the songs were completely different from one another but they are meant to evoke emotions inside of both the characters as they are going through current events, and the viewer. The message of this movie is that a song can evoke a memory or emotion from a past time, but you may not know that seeing the film. It is tough to grasp but that is what makes Malick’s movies so brilliant. It is like staring at a moving painting for two hours and trying to discern what it is about. Two people may have very different ideas of what is going on and that is why many of Malick’s movies are either hated or loved.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 114 mins Director: Arnaud Desplechin Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel and Alba Rohrwacher
The opening film for the 70th Cannes Film Festival had to be French. Along with two colossal French actors hopes were high for Ismael’s Ghost. What is it about? Ismaël Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan (Louis Garrel), an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.
The screenplay for Ismael’s Ghost is very choppy. What seems to be an intelligent multi-layered story highlighting the many aspects in the life of a film maker, is basically subplots going nowhere. It’s a well-acted drama, exploring the way the husband, his girlfriend and his long lost wife cope with this new situation. The viewer is offered a myriad of increasingly complicated side-stories, flash backs and dream-like sequences, culminating in a laughable scene of the tormented film maker shooting his own executive producer by accident. I have no doubt this film tries to make a point, but I’m afraid only the director knows which one. But it has stuck in my head and that makes me happy.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 107 mins Director: Thierry de Peretti Cast: Jean Michelangeli, Jean-Etienne Brat, Dominique Colombani and Paul Garatte
During the festival the premise of A Violent Life grabbbed my attention. The riots in Corsica had never crossed my path before. It seemed like a good film to watch while I was at the festival. What is it all about then? Despite the death threat hanging over his head, Stephen (Cederic Appietto) decides to return to Corsica to attend the funeral of his friend who was murdered. Stephen reminisces about the event that led him from being a student to small crime and a radical in an underground movement. See it sounds interesting right? Well it wasn’t! We were told that the film had only been completed a few days before the screening. In all honesty it did seem like it had a lot of pacing issues and it didn’t flow as well as you wanted it too. With a few genres in the film it couldn’t really decide what it was. Some times it was a crime story, then a political story then a drama it was all over the shop. The other issues laid in the casting of Jean Michelangeli, he just wasn’t a leading man at all. He didn’t have the drive nor flare to carry this film. It did require a strong lead and it wasn’t him. The characters didn’t have much of a connection either. The story had a ground but the layers above it weren’t strong enough. It was a shame, maybe if it were re-cut it could work better.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 115 mins Director: Bruno Dumont
DAB DAB DAB
Bruno Dumont a Cannes regular returned this year with yet another bizarre project. A full blown musical about the childhood of Joan of Arc. Dumont returns to his avant-garde territory. Featuring a cast of non-professional actors. So what is it all about? France 1485, midst of the 100 Years War. Jeanette looks after sheep in her village. She can’t bear to hear about the pain the English are causing. Jeanette becomes inspired and is ready to take arms for the freedom of France. By the way it’s a musical! We all know I love musicals! But Jeantte can be a bit of a bore fest at some moments. It has very entertaining moments and flows well. It could have easily been a 90 minute film, but I doubt Dumont would ever cut this film. The setting in Northern France, as per a Dumont film is stunning. The natural light really adds a charm to the film. The cast of unknowns work to some elements but as we are spectating a musical it would have been nice to had some good singer. The lyrics were utterly crazy and the heavy-metal score really ups the insaness of the film. As refreshing of a watch it was at Cannes it wasn’t for me.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 141 mins Director: Patty Jenkins Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Ewan Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Danny Huston, Elena Anya, Lucy Davis and David Thewlis
It is our sacred duty to defend the world. And it is what I am going to do.
Wonder Woman the comic book movie we are waiting for. The original trailer made it look like a stinker, and in all honesty I had no interest. But as a lover of female lead films I was game for it. The press have adored Wonder Woman, this is rather scary since most critics hate DC Movies. Gal Gadot received a lot of hate when she was cast originally and it seems as she won people over during Batman vs Superman. She converted me in all honesty, so what is Wonder Woman about? Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana (Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.
First of all I want to applaud DC for taking a gamble with Wonder Woman. Marvel didn’t have the balls to put out a stand alone female superhero movie first. Before anyone comments I’m aware Marvel have Captain Marvel coming up, but still with so many great heroines under their belt why not do it first? This gamble works on so many levels for the DCU! Gal Gadot flourishes as Diana Prince physically, emotionally and emphatically she really takes this role by the horns! She is a very humble hero and this is what the superhero genre needs right now! The story isn’t just about her rise to the peak of her powers. It’s about the welfare of the people around her too. Patty Jenkins ensures we see the world around Diana, this really is the key element in making Wonder Woman a success. I do hope this will inspire anyone to do good and for our younger generation to have a fictitious heroine to admire.
Chris Pine works well with Gal Gadot, he isn’t the weak male I expected. Although Diana is superior to him he does show why he is necessary to the tale. Without any spoilers the BIG BAD was terrible, but this is standard in any superhero movie. The 2 hour 2o miunte run-time is crucial to the whole piece the build-up and development really does bring Diana to life. Don’t get me wrong the pacing at some segments is utterly slow, it doesn’t mean I did’t enjoy it. But scenes could have been cut, but generally these were the scenes that actually had a punch line. Once scene that grabbed me the most was when Diana takes on the German’s in No Man’s Land. For me this is when I realised that this was a special comic book movie. You’ll also realise this is a colourful DCU movie, from grey and grainy to a plethora of colour. Wonder Woman is the film that faintly made me enjoy these superhero movies again. I am glad she has a stand alone film and it’s a shame she is in the Justice League. For now I’ll just enjoy Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s tremendous work.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 87 mins Director: David Lowery Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky and Liz Franke
A writer writes a novel, a songwriter writes a song, we do what we can to endure
God bless Pete’s Dragon if it wasn’t for you David Lowery wouldn’t have made A Ghost Story! Probably one of my most anticipated films for this year I have been lucky enough to watch it early. Widely loved at Sundance this year it was bound to fall into my lap. David Lowery has teamed up with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I liked). A Ghost Story seemed like a natural progression from this. So what is A Ghost Story about? Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state, he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.
All hail that Pie scene, could of watched it all day. This film is everything I wanted it to be and more! Thematically it’s on point, we go through emotions and feelings that general life hits us. It shows how love and time intertwine, and how we do leave a legacy even after we are gone on our loved ones.It gripped me from beginning to end. It felt like a Victorian tale but with a darker modern twist. Lowery’s use of light is just magical, the natural aesthetic of A Ghost Story makes it even more beautiful. It’s a very basic tale but it has so much blood flowing through it’s veins. Lowery really has created something so unique and different it has re-established my faith in film-making. As for Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara they pair up well together again and give a good performance. It had a hint of Malick to it, but this is truly a David Lowery film. I really have nothing else I can say about it! It’s heartwarming and unforgettable.