Last week I had the pleasure of viewing Harold & Maude, Chappie and It's Such a Beautiful Day. Spoilers incoming.
I'll start with Harold & Maude: for a film with such gallows humour, it's very life-affirming. I knew I recognised Ruth Gordon from Rosemary's Baby and she's as naturally delightful, eccentric and humorous (without the unsettling lingering theme of Rosemary's Baby, of course) - she's honestly such a pleasantry to have on the screen.
The character of Harold and his relationship with his mother and potential female suitors provided some fantastic awkward humour too - his failed suicide attempts and their reactions to them (the mother being desensitised by it and their guests absolutely horrified). I think I would have appreciated seeing this film when I was suffering heavy bouts of depression as by the end, the positive effect (yet traumatic for her death) Maude had on Harold spoke volumes for me - he seemed to appreciate the time he was alive more than anticipating the inevitable end.
Also that soundtrack was just sumptuous - I need to find it, CD or vinyl, who cares; it was just such a delight to hear whenever it played.
Chappie: I think Neill Blomkamp has given us a film to match District 9 - a distinctive, gritty, South-African cyberpunk ghetto in the very-near future. This film had a lot of personality - it was gritty but very heartfelt and endearing too. I was very surprised - pleasantly so - with the appearance of Die Antwoord in the film too: both Yolandi and Ninja actually perform rather well as exaggerations of their Die Antwoord personas (gangsters who are struggling to get by but also embrace the hyperactive image too).
The basic plot is that Dev Patel has found a way to integrate sentience and creativity to artificial life and plans to teach a droid this, against the will of the company he works for - driving home with the droid in the back of his van, he's kidnapped by Ninja, eventually introducing Die Antwoord to Dev. Rebuilding the droid and providing it with software, the film focuses a lot on teaching Chappie the importance of creativity and ethics. Yolandi shows a lot of charm with scenes where Chappie is learning and she's seen as a mother figure by the innocuous droid; Ninja does well to play up his extra-aggressive gangster image by trying to teach Chappie how to attack and murder by suggesting that humans enjoy a nice little shanking once in a while (and surprisingly enough, even such a malicious character becomes admirable somewhat in the end).
I certainly loved this, especially Sharlto Copley as Chappie - he delivers such innocent mannerisms with such a natural and charming enthusiasm that Chappie is almost like a puppy dog learning tricks. The film also explores some social commentary on South Africa's state on crime; the possibility of over-reliance on artificial life; and the concept of extending human life via artificial means. It's certainly a blockbuster film, no doubt about it, but it has such a genuine personality that it'd be a shame not to see it at least once.
It's Such a Beautiful Day: I felt like crying after seeing this, honestly. I hadn't felt so disheartened and broken after seeing a film for a while. The film certainly has Don Hertzfeldt's distinctive absurdist and minimalist art style and humour intact, but it's possibly the darkest film I've seen of his (of course, most of his work goes down dark or melancholic paths, but I personally found this his darkest work yet).
The film follows Bill through three chapters in his life and takes on a dream-like - and almost nightmarish at times, too - perspective on a man who has clearly suffered with mental health. He comes to realise that the bland chores in his life seems to actually be his life; that the past doesn't exist and the future is now; everyone dies by train and that his mother is old. Of course, what might seem absurd or humorous at first, seems to make sense as we find out more about Bill's struggle and suffering, more of the absurd remarks earlier in the film will make much more sense.
I really loved this film but I doubt I could watch it for a while afterwards: I admire that there's certainly no exposition - nothing directly spells out what's going wrong with Bill and Don's own narration helps execute moments of mental struggle effectively with overlapping narrations, repetitive narrations or narrations of the mundane. I found this quite difficult at times to watch though: I guess it's because of how honest - sometimes gently, sometimes brutally - this film is about the struggles of mental health and how depressing Bill's family history is too: within the hour the film lasts, I felt like I knew who Bill was exactly, through his awkward, mundane mannerisms; every self-conscious action; every struggle and lost train of thought; etc. It's wonderfully detailed yet beautifully simple, like everything else Don has given us.
At 7/27/15 06:52 AM, Dr-Worm wrote:
By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two
F for Fake
The Great Dictator
Harold and Maude
Niiiice, been watching Shoah recently (on the final disc). F For Fake is amazing; been meaning to see The Great Dictator (some Chaplin films are weirdly difficult to get in England) and I will certainly purchase Harold & Maude soon too.