One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead 3 out of 5

Director: Shin’ichirô Ueda. Cast Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama

Now let me tell you, this film requires a lot of patience. But given its 100% score of rotten tomatoes, I was willing to give it a chance. I have to be honest though, I found myself wondering 

“How long should I carry on watching this?” more than once. 

But I’m glad I did persevere. 

* * * (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD) * * * 

The film is essentially a film within a film… within a film… (within a film?). It reminded me a little bit of those plays like “The Play That Goes Wrong” and especially “Noises Off” for its 3 act structure. 

It’s a sort of love letter to no-bugbet guerrilla-style film-making. Living in Oblivion obviously comes to mind and of course Day for Night (but clearly there’s no comparison).

It’s a film that basically rewards you right at the end in the last act, where finally all it’s revealed and everything clicks together and makes sense, including all those bits which you thought were a bit “odd” or just bad.

At which point, it’s definitely A LOT OF FUN and I can see why a lot of people warmed up to it. 

Whether the “payoff” (doesn’t matter how much fun it is) is enough to make this the masterpiece everyone is talking about is very debatable. Because it order to get there, you’ll have to go through such an extended and elaborate set-up, with bad acting, unfunny jokes and a terrible script. 

Booksmart

booksmart

BOOKSMART 4 out of 5

Director: Olivia Wilde. Cast Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Sudeikis.

Nothing about this film inspired me much, from the title, to the cast, to the trailer… Not even the poster looked that good.
I thought “Do we really need another teen-comedy, about people graduating from high school, trying to go to parties and have sex and being as rude as only kids can be at that age?”
Well, apparently we do.
Not for anything “Booksmart” ended up on Obama’s list of his favourite film from 2019.
Obviously, every film needs to be judged according to his genre (if any). You can’t really compare a horror with a comedy or a documentary and so on. But this is certainly one of the strongest coming-of-age/teen-commedy of the last few years and it will probably end up being used as a sort of milestone for this decade, the way Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Breakfast Club were for the 80s, Clueless for the 90s and, like or not, Superbad for the 00s (thought, I can assure you, this is A LOT BETTER)
This is a comedy which is so effortlessly inclusive and progressive that it doesn’t even have to make a point about by drawing your attention to it: it just is.
The humour is always sharp, yes sometimes crude, yes often puerile, but never cheap and always advancing the story or its characters… and most importantly, quite fun too!
The script is honest and smart as it plays with tropes and archetypes and doesn’t just subvert them but gives a whole new fresh and modern twist.
Yes, we still have the “graduation speech” scene at the end and the “learn about myself” moment and rivals will inevitably become friends, but for most of it, the film just hangs all the superficial assumptions and the clichés at the door and let the real kids step forward, and boy the kids of today are a lot smarter than we were!

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.

once_upon_a_time_in_hollywood_still_1_-_publicity_-_h_2018

Director: Quentin Tarantino, Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino

2.5_MOVIEGEEKBLOG

Now, I’m aware I’m going to make myself some enemies here, but I’ve never really been a massive fan of Tarantino. I have tried and tried over the years. I recognise his skills at writing some of the dialogue (dialogue which HE seems to love more than anyone else), I can see the craft behind the camera. He’s definitely a man who knows what he’s doing and who knows the visual language of film-making, but I find him repetitive, a bit full of himself (well actually, both his films and him as a person), incredibly indulgent and actually a bit childish. I know, I know… not quite a popular view.
I came to this film with open arms, with all the will in the world, as a massive fan of Di Caprio e as somebody who really enjoys watching Brad Pitt in anything (yes, anything! Even “Meet Joe Black!”)… and unfortunately I was proved once again, that Quentin just does not do it for me…. In fact he kinda pisses me off a bit. 
The film is a love letter to the Hollywood which Tarantino seems to love so much and that’s been “quoted” throughout all his previous films. And that love clearly shows everywhere down to the attention to smallest detail, wherther it’s a poster in the background, or the name of a minor character which appears for just a few seconds.
He also loves the music from the time, so much so that the film seems to spend an awful lot of time just playing some of those tracks over (endless) shots of Brad driving his car. Whether that makes an entertaining watch is something which I would debate. But then again, I can see I’m clearly in the minority here because everybody else loves the mood that this film creates.
I just thought it was an incredibly episodic film which aside from recreating the Hollywood from the late 60s early 70s had nothing else to say.
Di Caprio does his best with his character, but even his great acting can’t hide the fact that’s it’s all a bit light. The scenes with the little girl/actress are probably some of the best in the film, but once again, they serve no purpose in the overall narrative. And then somewhere around “hour 2” of the endless running time, the film decides to take a turn and becomes a story about the “Manson killers”, which Tarantino, in his style, which by now is predictable as ever, decides to re-write just as it did for the Nazi and Hitler at the end of “Inglorious Bastards”.

Yes, yes, very funny. Mmm… really? Again? Apparently so.
Also, once again, we get the gratuitous ending with ultra-violence, which we’ve seen over and over. Whether this is bad taste, considering that a pregnant woman got slaughtered in real life, among the many other victims too and considering that the close families to all these people are still living with the consequences, I’ll leave it to you to decide.

Tarantino once again is unable to keep his films under 2 hours, because he’s so in love with his set-pieces, with his dialogue that he thinks he (and we) just can’t do without it.
And so he indulges himself with extraneous scenes (completely superfluous) with an idiotic Bruce Lee (No wonder the Chinese hated it), with the above mentioned endless car driving sequences and long preambles to even longer sequences, for which there’s actually very little in terms of payoff.
So what could have been a beautiful old fashioned film about the “magic of movies” mixed up with a lovely bromance ends up being meandering, very self-indulgent and a very diluted mish-mash of everything, which actually amounts to pretty much nothing.
It may look and sound cool but behind the neon signs, hippie girls, the funky music, the shirtless Brad, it’s just a series of period clichés with nothing to tell… for three hours!

A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM

A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM

2.5_MOVIEGEEKBLOG

I found this film tantalising, interesting and infuriating all at the same time. At times I found myself discovering hidden gems and film which I had never ever heard of, but other times, and more often than not, I was just left frustrated by how reaching some those links from clip to clip were, how far-fetched were some of the arguments and wrong were some of the readings and basically just how random it all seemed. It really felt as if Mark Cousins was so keen to try to include certain film clips (which he had to “fair deal” in order not to pay the copyrights, so he filled them up with pointless descriptions and analysis), that it didn’t really matter whether they fitted or not: he just made them fit. Phrases like “a storm about to hit… just like adolescence” felt incredibly forced and actually quite up-their-own-self. And of course there were HUGE oversights too. Where was Bicycle thieves? And Kolya? Stand by me? The 400 Blows? Lord of the flies? Au Revoir les Enfants? ANd the list goes on… I was also amazed to see how ET was used 3 times (obviously the moon shot, but also two other moments which were beautiful but to me didn’t quite illustrate the points Cousins was trying to make) but then when Cousins talks about adults cut off from frame, making the analogy with Tom & Jerry, he fails to mention ET, which is a wonderful example of how Spielberg keeps the camera a child’s level all the time and keeps the adults out of frame as if they were not allowed to enter the children’s world (except the mother, who’s obviously special), until the moment ET is about to die (which is the moment Elliot really grow up). Incidetally, no animations? And finally the “family moments” were completely unrelated to the rest, despite the constant attempt to make it all relevant. Anyway, it really should have been called “A Personal Story of Children and (some) Films” Basically it was all just very very light despite all the pretences to be deep.

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