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Nightcrawler (2014)


Nightcrawler (2014)Another film I have been meaning to catch for some time, after seeing Enemy (2013) a few weeks back I was spurred onto catch Nightcrawler (2014) a sure sign that Jake Gyllenhaal is hitting a stride of successful films, much like Matthew McConaugheywho knows it could be Gyllenhaal picking up a heap of trophies soon or is he just laying the groundwork for greater things to come. I was advised to watch Nightcrawler when it was dark, which is harder this time of year with the shorter nights I decided to just go for it. The whole atmosphere of this film makes things darker without the need of even drawing the curtains. The moment that you see Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) an unemployed internet educated loner tries to get a job, using unconventional methods that just alienates prospective employers.

He’s a creepy pasty looking guy who is driven to get a job, a head filled with business jargon. Not a guy you want to meet in the office and stuck in a conversation with. After a few failed job interviews (if you can call them that) more like sales pitches, finds his calling on the dark streets on L.A. when he sees a car crash being filmed by amateurs, known as nightcrawler’s, feeding on the suffering of the victims. He’s find his calling (if you can call it that) begins what is disturbing yet compelling film. Scoring his first scoop and selling to a local news station for the night-shift lead by Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who is grateful for the footage that is raw, unpolished. Even more scary is that Bloom shows potential which she encourages. Herself a rating hungry, a reflection of the modern media hungry for anything that grabs their audience’s attention. 

You could say Nightcrawler is a culmination a few a films film, or an extension of them. Going back as early as Peeping Tom (1960) that sees a wanna be film-maker taking the art of film to levels of voyeurism we had not seen on-screen. The desire to see raw emotion, to see the power of danger and the moment of death in the eyes of the victim. Moving forward we have both Network and Taxi Driver (both 1976) which have their influences. It took me a while to really see the connection between Lou Bloom and Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) who travelled the streets of New York at night. However his aims were more honourable, to save those who had fallen into a world of despair, trapped you could say. He was an outsider who wasn’t really able to have a proper relationship, much like Bloom I don’t really see this as an extension, more a strange coincidence between both films. Moving onto Network the news station that is hungry for ratings, driven by a career hungry Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) now in the form of Romina who is at an equally struggling station, much more prophetic than Nightcrawler which reflects those ideas back in the 1970’s.

Moving away from the comparisons to the more technical aspects of the film, it’s visually a very striking film with the contrast cranked up reflecting the intensity of the film’s content. A fast-moving soundtrack to match how fast the amateur film-maker is improving, the lengths he goes to in order to get the best footage. With the aid of intern Rick (Riz Ahmed) the audiences way into the film and able to question Blooms motives and drives. Like many of us he’s also been out of a job needing something, anything to get him back on his feet. Able to maintain some level of morality which becomes blurred over the course of the film, when the drives of money, ratings and success. Something that really attracts Bloom as he gets better and better, using his police scanner and Rick on the sat-nab he’s on the tail on incidents that affect the white middle class, striking fear into the audience. Its something that is not immune to American audiences, I have seen myself people slowing down on roads to get a glimpse of traffic accidents, to see the damage, hopefully see some blood, cinema is no longer able to compete with this lust for danger that TV news can cater to, if you go for the lowest common denominator.

All this comes to a climax when Bloom gets to a shooting in an affluent borough, entering the house to capture all the gruesome detail. He crosses the line between us and the police, seeing what the public only imagine. Usually our imaginations are left to run wild. That no longer happened the footage is slightly pixellated and transmitted. Also crossing the line between news coverage and withholding evidence from the police, We know we shouldn’t cross into a crime-scene, Bloom allows us to do just that, like a video game brought to our screens. The line between reality is being blurred, no longer are we kept behind the police tape, we can breakthrough that to see all the gruesome detail we are hungry to see.

It’s an incredible film in terms of the lengths that the characters go to, none of them get away scot-free from the world of sleazy journalism is brought to life here. My experience of American news is pretty slim, I’m reminded of the poor coverage of Fox News when their expert of Muslims believed that there were no go areas for non-Muslims in Birmingham, all nonsense, but enough to engage the audience, playing their primal fears, getting them hooked and ultimately boost their ratings. Here we see the other side of the news world, as it gathers local stories, satirised by Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) that saw car crashes becoming leading stories. All part of cinemas comment of news media today. I was left shocked at what I had seen as it goes steadily worse, I was more gripped. Was I being pulled into that world, wanting to see the events unfold hungry for the story to appear on the news? I really don’t know and that what makes this film so compelling, the characters mostly immoral which allow us to question them and our own desire for stories, are we as desperate those in the media for stories or are we just programmed in a way now that want them, like a baby wants feeding?

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Meeting P.T. Anderson Update (27/6/15)


I’m really surprised by how much material I have been able to work with when it comes to Boogie Nights (1997) which has allowed me to produce 8 test video, with a few potential pieces in there for sure. The last three I have produced today are all very different. The first is very much a re-edit of the don-nut store robbery which left Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) is left alive after the incident. I wanted to speed that moment up, allowing you to see as much in as little time. Whilst also nodding towards Sam Peckinpah in terms of slow-motion before the sound becomes too obvious. I’m not sure there is really a piece in here, there is a fan-edit, the only one I think I will allow myself to do. It does allows the stranger with the gun who somehow saves the day is given more screen-time here. 

The second video is much more fun, taken from a long scene at the end of the film. I hadn’t remembered the scene since I first watched it, then realising that there is a lot of potential here to play with sound effects to increase the tension, whilst also allow the audiences mind to run wild. It’s a very masculine and silly sequence which really changes the tone of the scene of desperation into one of comedic danger.

The final test we have Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) being comforted by Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) who has grown to love him over the course of the film. Now she has her wish and is really enjoying the moment. I have tried to emphasise that, however I don’t think it really works. I was trying to recreate a moment in Just One More Game (2013) where Richard Burton is slowly stroking Elizabeth Taylor, there is more a sense of menace in that sequence, here it’s not even that sexual which is what I was going for. Still I can’t say I haven’t tried to see if it works.

There has been a lot of found footage which I have disregarded for one reason or another. My next film to look at will be Will There Be Blood (2007) which I will be sourcing found footage for. I’ll be starting test maybe after my trip to London, which I will be sharing with you.

Meeting P.T. Anderson Update (21/6/15)


I thought I could sneak a few more test videos out today from my found footage from Boogie Nights (1997) today, whilst still celebrating Father’s Day. Oddly enough my first video looks at a mother-son argument which I have cranked up in order to create more tension between the two people. I think I have been more successful here than my previous effort with an argument which was too long to be really effective, having to edit down more to have a chance of creating the same tension I have here. I think also the domestic setting has helped.

My last video of the day was a real spark of inspiration, a four channel video that makes use of Dirk Diggler’s (Mark Wahlberg) screen debut opposite Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) using the audio for a portion of the sequence before using any video, of the crews reaction, bringing them slowly into the video. I think it really work and is a funny piece, editing down the sequence to produce this piece.

I have a few more ideas to test out before I move on, I’m thinking next to look at There Will Be Blood (2007) I can’t seem to get the Milkshake scenes out of my head, they are incredible powerful so maybe I will be starting there. I am now halfway through Paul Thomas Anderson‘s films I am getting more a sense of what he is about as a director, everything is on a grand scale, whilst also able to have fun. Heavy of dialogue that is not so intelligent that you feel alienated by it all. I could go on forever, my test videos should eventually reflect my understanding of the directors work.

Meeting P.T. Anderson Update (20/6/15)


I thought I wouldn’t be making any work today, as I was going to Sheffield to check out the Degree Show, which I encourage you all to do by the way. After sourcing found footage from Boogie Nights (1997) a film I thought little of besides the comedy of it, I have come to see it in a new light, there are some incredible moments in there, some that you just can’t touch as they are perfect. However I still find a few bits to hopefully tinker with over the next few weeks. Coming back so early has allowed me to already produce 3 new test videos. I think because I had time to consider what I wanted to do and I changed my approach to the sourcing. Instead of looking at a character arc as I had with Magnolia (1999) which was more due to the films structure I have been able to find some scenes that I can use. I found even during that stage I was filtering and still am.

I started with the standard removal of dialogue idea which again is effective in bringing something different out in the scene. I also noticed the mise-en-scene of moment, it has since been repeated in The Master (2012) which I have also manipulated in a similar way. I am starting to notice patterns in his work beyond that of the male relationships and the heavy dialogue. Of course there are fan-made videos that demonstrate that, and there are loads of them.

Moving onto the second that reminded me of the classical lighting in film, when realism was not yet a consideration, more that idea of fantasy, the ideal woman was at the forefront. I have found a scene which is probably not what you’d even find in the early 1930’s films, however I wanted to see if I could add that extra lighting to the Roller Girl (Heather Graham) as she was checking out Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) before Porn director James Horner (Burt Reynolds) signs him up to his company as the next big thing (in more ways than one). It’s a fun scene that reminds me of classical lighting that was never really taken advantage of. You could say is misogynistic, however this is a film about porn so you can argue either way. I do however think that the effect is too subtle to really be noticed, the content does still overwhelm the piece so maybe lost. Still it was fun to do.

The final video is looking at using two channels again as I did before using found footage from Hard Eight (1996) which I believe was in-fact more effective (if we ignore the silly addition at the start. I have tried to extend the audio over at the end, which meant slowing down the last cut before I reached a point where it could loose its effectiveness.

I’m hoping to continue with another video that looks an argument between Dirk Diggler and his mum (Joanna Gleason) which I am hoping to intensify that sequence by removing the gaps, maybe even speed it up in places. In short Boogie Nights is in-fact a gold mine of moments that I can still explore and manipulate. It looks like I’ll have more test videos from a this film, one I had little hope for, a surprising end to the day.

 

Be Kind Rewind (2008)


Be Kind Rewind (2008)Now I’m not really a fan if Jack Black who I find too wacky and out there, I have seen School of Rock  (2003) which you can tell was made for him. The same goes for Be Kind Rewind (2008) which I finally saw today and I actually did engage with it and with him as an actor, well comedian if I’m honest. I think it was more the film lover in me that drew me to this film.

You’d think that video stores by the time Be Kind Rewind was made there would be no more of these left. As the DVD had long taken over the role of the main home entertainment medium. Now you could say its all about streaming as DVD and Blu-Ray sales are struggling in the era of on-demand viewing platforms and illegal downloads. I have personally taken to not downloading films in support of the film industry. Anyway enough of my film politics and onto this fun film that really pays homage to modern film without being overly romantic about it. As the next film to really do that was The Artist (2011) which really made you soft and gooey inside.

I think what really got me as how these average characters, not some larger than life people, (apart from Black really injected so much fun into this otherwise throwaway film about film. I must say it has given me ideas for a future Western piece I want to make. Ok now lets talk about Be Kind Rewind a film that really should never have been made on the face of it. When video shop owner Mr.Fletcher (Danny Glover) entrusts his store to Mike (Yasiin Bey) whilst he goes on a research trip, he leaves only one instruction, “keep Jerry (Jack Black) out”. Which we know doesn’t last long in a film. After a mad-cap scheme leaves Jerry magnetised he somehow wipes all the video tapes in the store. Reminds of me Thunderbird 1 erasing the footage of camera to ensure they stay top-secret. Which in this case is not good for business as they both find out a day later.

Coming up with a mad-cap ideas to re-shoot the films, beginning with Ghostbusters (1984) with just the two of them, crappy special effects and some clever ingenuity too. All in the hopes that Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) who has been keeping an eye on the shop for Mr. Fletcher doesn’t recognise this bootleg version from the far superior original. To a point it works, a shorter version passes her by unnoticed but not her nephew who comes in with his friends wanting more of the same. Placing Jerry and Mike in a sticky situation, one which they come out on-top (for a while). F

They begin to film more, starting with Rush Hour 2 (2001) which we see in much more detail, there is more clever tricks which we are let into. Its seems that no film is too complicated for them.  This soon booms into a series of “Swede” films that they make, with the help of Alma (Melonie Diaz) the token woman in the film who also allows them to do more and make more “Swedes” for the ever-growing customer base that had once fizzled out. The shop is however threatened with demolition if it’s not brought up to code/regulation in time. 

Of course the legal consequences of all these “Swedes” does catch up with the gang, now reunited with Mr. Fletcher who has taken on this business model. Taking the form ironically of Sigourney Weaver sadly not as Dana Barrett who lays down the law of copyright infringement, pirate videos etc, basically shutting them down in embarrassing style. Forcing them to face the reality of their situation, no longer able to make “Swedes”. Leading them to make a film from scratch about a local jazz musician who was “born” in the video store. Its full of film-making energy which we have been seeing flickers of throughout the film, which finally comes together. It could be seen as disjointed having it all broken up and placed all over the place, from the beginning until the final act when we see it come together, as the film a documentary of Fats Waller. It’s a very loose film with a lot of heart and low-fi techniques that is actually quite heartwarming to watch, a strong reaction to the slick production values of film today. Creating to look and feel if something much older with practically no budget produce this documentary that brings together the community that cinema used to do. Like the other films they made its full of heart and heaps of fun, its got Black all over it and it works. 

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Meeting P.T. Anderson Update (14/6/15)


Only one test video today, ok well two for one really as I have started to work differently really when I approached Magnolia (1999). Looking today at the boy genius Stanley who is pressurised into playing What do Kids Know? I began by piecing all my found footage together in chronological order before I started to play around with it. I found it got easier I knew what I was looking for, what drew me to this character who I can relate to in some respects. Focusing on the need to go to the bathroom and the final scene that Stanley (Jeremy Blackman) is found in.  I also noticed that his arc finishes in the second hour, not going into the final 3rd as we go into the last few hours of this day in the film.

Looking at the results I am a little mixed about what works really withe footage I have used. I have left portions in to build up to what I wanted to do. I started to play around with the speed of the dialogue before realising it wash’t really doing anything for it. I have removed spaces in-between however to speed up in the first of the two tests, However I feel for there to be piece in there more refinement maybe needed. They both have their strength, but which is stronger. I feel I have done all I can with Magnolia, wanting to move onto the middle entry of the loose trilogy, Boogie Nights (1997) which I really can’t tale seriously, which as I’ve said could be down to the subject matter itself. Not how it is written, more the subject. I will see what grabs my attention and take that forward for next time.

Niagra (1953)


Niagra (1953)My dad has the idea that Marilyn Monroe was no good as an actress which is true…to a point as I have found with her last film The Misfits (1961). I believe she unfairly earned this title due the directors she worked with, taking advantage of her, the film industry creating an image she couldn’t live up to and the pressure of public live being labelled a sex-symbol. And this is before the days of the internet when she would have surely suffered far worse under the gaze of the media. You have to look at earlier roles such as her small bit part in All About Eve (1950) where she was more a character role with a few lines, playing the blonde for a scene. Playing up that persona before it really took root a few years later. Another stronger example in Niagara (1953) where she is paired against Joseph Cottenyes the very same who found fame thanks to Citizen Kane (1941) and a strong of thrillers, a credible actor from the theatre who made the transition to Hollywood. It seems a very strange pairing on the face of it today. Yet its not really, take a pretty young thing who knows no better to bring in the audience and an established actor and there you have on-screen couple for a film. It happens sadly to this day, Hollywood really hasn’t broken that mould. Hopefully as more actresses speak out about the sexism in the industry we may finally get change,

As much as Monroe plays more to the classic femme-fetelle this time, the blonde who can really drop a few knocks along the course of the film, getting her husband George Loomis (Cotten) all tied up, Not long out of a psychiatric hospital the couple are taking a break at the iconic resort of Niagara Falls, it’s not really what the doctor ordered for the Loomis’s who are further apart than ever before, just about able to stand each other in their cabin. On the face of this all American location dark secrets are beneath surface ready to seep out in the blazing Technicolor film-noir. George is troubled by feelings of jealousy which consume him, unable to move on, which is pushing the couple apart. As Rose (Monroe) has gone to the arms of another man already whilst on holiday.

We discover the Loomis couple have out-stayed their welcome when The Cutler’s arrive on their “honeymoon” something that is never really explained. Promised that cabin the Lomis’s are still occupying, the two couples an uneasy friendship, the Cutlers aware of the Rose’s overt sexuality towards the other guests staying at the resort, playing music that stirs up George to the brink. I found the Cutlers to be underdeveloped as a couple, first meeting them at the border, before we learn they are not really newlyweds, so what are they, just a couple taking a holiday. Ray (Max Showalter) is hoping to meet his boss Mr. J.C. Kettering (Don Wilson) and his wife, hoping to take advantage of the situation. However it’s Polly (Jean Peters) who has the most excitement, discovering more than she expected whilst enjoying the attractions. 

Polly is caught up in the mess between George and Rose as things get messy, the disappearance of George before turning up dead a few days later. The all American holiday destination is tinged with death, lies and alteria-motives that Polly is tangled up in unable to her herself free unlike her husband Ray who is harder to persuade. You could say its a classic Hitchcock where all this dark activity is going on, and only one person really knows the truth. Both of the Loomis’s are very different people, the very definition of opposites when it comes to a couple, the honeymoon period is indeed well and truly over.

Henry Hathaway has taken the film-noir genre and brought it into the light of day, the all-American couple is no longer going on a happy holiday where you lie on the beach and get-drunk, a place where you can forget your troubles, they come with you and never leave. He has cleverly cast Monroe as the femme-fetale, using her beauty to distract us from what is going on inside her. Whilst Cotten is sometimes out of place, probably too old to really be her husband (like I said earlier a symptom of Hollywood) he is possessed with jealousy and anger, not to the same level of darkness of Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt (1943), the anger within him has come from a different place as they couple tear shreds out of each other. Hathaway also makes great use of the bells throughout really adds a sense of dread. On first hearing them they are to taunt us, as they ring out a previous song. Before acting as a foundation for more powerful scene that is both brave and daring in full colour, relying on the audiences memory to complete the scene as we are distracted by the murder below.

This really was a surprising, a rare colour film-noir, with the addition of Monroe before the mid-fifties when her fame was cemented for very different reasons. We see what she could have become in this beautiful location that is synonymous with what is great with America. It’s very classic in it’s form, tinged with darkness. You’ll never go on holiday and feel the same again.

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The Last Samurai (2003)


The Last Samurai (2003)A film I watched purely on recommendation, not really a fan of Tom Cruise, however when it mentioned the U.S. civil war I decided to take a closer look at The Last Samurai (2003) to see what was really going on. And I wasn’t let down, even though it’s not technically a western it does have all the clever hallmarks of being a revisionist Western, cleverly reworked to look at the decline and fall of the Samurai warrior. A reflection of the Native American across the Pacific, complete with out all knowing white other Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) a troubled man of the army who cannot reconcile his part in the forced relocation and massacre of the Native American people. Which we see in the form of ever more graphic flash-backs which could relate to any massacre before 1876 when we find him now a drunk helping to sell the Winchester rifle. He’s not happy in his work, used as a heroic figure who used a rifle in the Civil War.

He’s offered the chance of a better life back in the uniform in a training role in Japan. By this time relations with the once isolationist country have warmed up. The country has become westernised, adopting the fashions, technology and even weapons. We have come a long way since the time of The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) when relations are just being started between the two very different countries. One rooted in tradition and the past and another in asserting their dominance in the world (nothings changed there then). Now in the late 1800’s we are more in line with Unforgiven/Yurusarezaru mono (2013) when the Samurai is a seen as a dying breed, a reflection of the American gunfighter. The Last Samurai raises their status to another race that has become a relic, deeply rooted in the past, yet also very much part of the countries heritage. Once noble men at the disposal of the Emperor, who now wants them tamed if not eradicated. All part of the westernisation of the country.

Algren’s position is one of modern cinema with a conscience, looking back over the historical depiction of his own country reflected in another. He will train the Japanese army to fight the Samurai but not willingly, more out of a sense of duty and the money’s pretty good too. You’d think that guns would be a far better match for the sword wielding samurai who we meet in a gruesome batter that alters the course of the film dramatically. After killing of a fair few men Algren is taken back to the samurai village out of respect for his ability in battle. You can see some similarities between him and Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) who is adopted/assimilated into the culture. The journey is not straight forward, it’s not a case of understanding just the culture, its a whole different mind-set. He can fight, he has the potential to be great, held back by his mind-set, not able to focus his thoughts. Whereas Dunbar is more open to what is around him, not coming with the “I’m living with savages” mindset which takes a while to wear off.

The Samurai are not depicted as savages, cinema has been more kind and even respectful to them. We hold them in awe of their skill, part of the countries culture and heritage. The genre is has strong links with the western, both drawing on each other before the release of this film. This is not Dances with Wolves (1990) in Japan, there is a sweeping feel to the movie, we are seeing the end of an era in a country through the eyes of an American which is standard for Hollywood. Which allows the audience to connect with another culture, which this time was more open to the white-man’s presence, the other was becoming a double-other (film theory talk) in order to work together. Both Algren and Dunbar are/were soldiers of the U.S. army who have come to dislike its recent campaign history. One wanting to see the West before it’s tamed and another horrified by that process. Openly criticising General Custer and his last campaign, saying he was living up to his legend. It’s as if the past has grown a deeper conscience through the guise of Japanese culture, however historically correct is another matter.

With the warrior transformation underway we see him assimilate into their culture, learning the language. Algren never gives up, determined to prove himself to these people who are almost like gods, giving their skill, honour and duty to the emperor who has turned his back on them. They are now fighting for survival, something which Algren feels the Native Americans had but were greatly outnumbered and outgunned. The same is happening here, but not without a fight all provided courtesy of cinema. And boy do we get a glorious battle even though it may never have really happened it’s all part of Hollywood and the genres attempt to rewrite history. It allows Cruise to act more than just rely on his stunts which he insists on doing. There is also little time for romance which would be very out-of place in this film. It’s thankfully held back to move the film forward. We also have Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto the leader of the Samurai and advisor to the Emperor. Watanabe has become the go-to Japanese guy for these heavier roles, bringing with him a more honest portrayal, not just someone in make-up or slightly Japanese. It’s a solid block-buster that if you go deep enough find more than just a historical action film, you get a western, always an extra treat for me.

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Meeting P.T. Anderson Update (6/6/15)


Before I begin I have come to a decision about the final outcome/s of this work. Looking at the tests so far I can see some are stronger than others and should become pieces in their own right. They will have their own page and posts too, reflecting that status too. So when I feel I have fully exhausted what I can do with Paul Thomas Anderson‘s films I will compile a page to hold the works. I can see there are already a few pieces already that will be re-posted as pieces.

Onto todays progress, I have produced two test video, one potential could be a piece, the other I’m unsure of. I’ve moved onto Magnolia (1999) now. I initially wanted to focus on four character strands, the Partridge family as the head of the family is dying, the wife who married him for the money is having a crisis of the heart. Whilst he is being looked after by a nurse. The long lost son is a minor celebrity whose a lifestyle guru for men struggling to find a woman. I wanted to separate these four interconnecting strands, have them meet where their paths cross and leave it there.

I started with Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) piecing all of the footage together and there was quite a lot for a film that runs for 3 hours. I felt after previous tests that is rater pointless to reconstruct, it would be a fan-made movie, reciting it together to be what the fan wants and just post online. I’m not interested in that. I had to look at why I wanted to manipulate his footage, A – it’s actually a pretty good performance by Cruise who is always the all action hero who hasn’t really aged, placed in a powerful and flawed role. I was particularly drawn to the interview that Mackey gives to Gwenovier (April Grace) who probes into his family past, making him feel uncomfortable. His character is stripped bare by a complete stranger and we are allowed to see this happen. I wanted to build on that, making him feel more awkward, whilst fighting to retain some dignity and confidence. I think as good as the video is, it could have been better, allowing him to talk a little more, leaving him struggling to get his words out as Gwenovier mauls him.

The second test is two individual ones put together as I can’t decide which is strongest. Looking now at Julianne Moore‘s character (Linda Partridge) who’s having the crisis as her much older husband is dying. She knows she married him for the wrong reasons and hates herself for it. Playing on that vulnerability and the speed of her dialogue I decided to speed portions up to see how she would be. There is more tension as you have to pay attention to what she is saying. I didn’t want it to go too fast for fearing it would becomed comedic which these scenes really don’t need.

Looking ahead to the other two character who I might tackle, Phil the nurse (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Jason Robards (Earl Partridge) who are practically in all the same scenes together, they never really cross into another character besides the other two I have been working with. There is one scene I might want to work with, the phone scenes to Mackey’s hotline, however I really don’t know what I can really do.

 

Maybe Magnolia is too good to really play with. I am interested in the boy prodigy and his relationship with his father which maybe another route to go down, so more footage to source instead of being so rigid.

Robot and Frank (2012)


Robot and Frank (2012)I was originally excited to finally catch Robot and Frank (2012) after seeing the trailer a few years back. Not being able to catch it until now. It looked fun, and an interesting idea really, pairing an elderly man Frank Langella as retired Frank and a robot carer (Peter Sarsgaard). What turned out to be a sci-fi comedy for the grey pound. Still it made me laugh…sometimes. I found Robot and Frank too gentle at times, which I’ll explain as I continue. 

I get the premise of independence its stated very early on in Frank’s resistance to all things technology. When he visits the library he’s about the only one keeping the place open really, and keeping Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) in a job, as a transformation jus taking place. It’s not another closure of a library, it’s the next step in public record keeping and our access to it. It’s not very exciting either. Set in the not too distant future, it’s only the young who really embrace technology, which is nothing new really new. Maybe I’m too young for this film to see it for what it really is. Or is it just not building up a strong enough image of the future that I can imagine it beyond the subtle technology that as incredible as it is, is still flawed. 

With all this technology in the picture Frank’s son Hunter (James Marsden) who’s starting to go out of his mind with worry brings the worst possible aid for his dad, a robot, who I thought was voiced by Kevin Spacey which got me thinking that he’s got a real niche for robots and computers. To my surprise it was Peter Sarsgaard who filled in that role who brings more charm to the walking technological aid that takes on the role of carer and ultimately partner in crime. It’s a relationship built on resistance before understanding moves in that sees these two men (one made from microchips) as Frank a small time thief has another go at the big time. 

The comedy really only comes from Frank’s mumblings and negativity, and it gets boring after half an hour or so. The dynamic between the father and his two grown up children is only slightly better but not played for laughs. Its like Hunter and his sister Madison (Liv Tyler) want the best for him yet can’t agree and you don’t feel it. They never really fight, they squabble for one scene and its over. There is a sense that technology can isolate you, with a video phone is both engaging yet shows how disconnected Franks children really are from him. The inclusion of Jennifer is underplayed and mis-cast really. Seen as a love-interest before a strange twist at the end which really throws the film off-balance. I feel that both Langella and Sarandon have both been mis-cast really, not looking as old as they should be on-screen, unless we are supposed to age better in the future. 

Now because of the build up after the big robbery it seems that Frank has lost his mind. What could be seen as a last break for freedom and independence is turned into the downfall into a care home. We are lead to believe that Frank has a form of dementia, might just be old age and a bit of memory loss, when you see what he gives his son at the end of the film it doesn’t add up. What Robot and Frank is trying to say that technology is not the way forward, in looking after the elderly. In fact its message is pretty confused, at one point man relies on technology, becoming his best friend. Nothing really adds up, there are strands started but never seen through with a few laughs here and there. Leaving us wondering if the future looks any brighter for how we care for the elderly, for me it looks the same as it does today, so much for progress.  

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