Well there have actually been a couple of things about the blog to update you on, for a change. First of all my review of The Pianist which you may have read before, was posted up on my friend Tyson Carters site Head in a Vice as part of his iMDB Top 250 challenge, you should swing over and check out his blog if you haven’t before. Following on from that I have revamped the theme of the blog, the Vertigo theme was nice but had limited accessability and I think ultimately put people off from reading my stuff so with the new theme we’ve got all the categories for you to choose from up at the top we’ve got my most recent posts on the home page and some useful stuff for finding your own way around in the sidebar, hopefully you’ll find it much easier to read what you want to read! And to atone for losing the film themed theme we’ve got some nice Lynch red curtains to back all my posts, hope you like it.
From now on these weekly updates are going to include some more of my creative writing to make them more worthwhile rather than just being me telling you to look at my other stuff so I recommend for you to keep looking at these posts to see a bit more of more fictional output. For this week though you’ve got four posts to get through to make up for the fact I only did two last week, first of all you’ve got my review of The Joy Formidable’s second album Wolf’s Law. Then there was my conclusions on the multi-Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty. I also managed to get hod of new Foals album Holy Fire and got round to reviewing that. And finally, I had a look at Cronenberg’s mind-bending latest Cosmopolis. I hope you enjoy have a flick through those, please leave me any comments you may have.
And this week I’m going to leave you with what can only be described as a huge tune from Thom Yorke’s new supergroup, Atoms for Peace, the albums due out on the 25th so keep your eyes peeled for the review:
So this week after it’s flurry of award nominations it was time for me to go and see Zero Dark Thirty, the film from The Hurt Locker’s director, Kathryn Bigelow about how Bin Laden got shot. The Hurt Locker was a superb war movie that grips and enthralls the viewer more than any other modern-day war movie has ever done, could the same be said for Zero Dark Thirty’s dark portrayal of a government manhunt in the Middle East?
The film kicks off on 9/11 with voice recordings from the horrific events of that day and really tells the story from then on. We meet our protagonist Maya (Jessica Chastain) early on as she’s witnessing a colleague torture a man who has info on Al Queada. At first you may be mistaken to take Maya for a soft lady who’s slightly out of her depth it is seen quickly that this is not the case. When she is first left with the captive he tries get her to help him and she snaps back with, ‘Help yourself by telling the truth.’ Throughout the film she’s not portrayed as a soft touch in any way, she is in fact the driving force behind everything throwing her weight around and overpowering some of the highest government authorities in the process, she’s a true woman on a mission and Chastain has got her pitch perfect.
In many ways Maya’s character paves the whole shape of the movie, sharp, efficient, to-the-point and brutal. Nothing here is glamourised, nor even patriotic. The killing of Bin Laden was something that had to be done and someone had to do it. There’s no fluffing about the edges Bigelow gives it to us straight up and in doing so makes one of the most gripping films I’ve ever seen. The story itself is so filmic it doesn’t need anything done to it and Bigelow has the expertise to craft these events in the most realistic way possible. The final scene is one of the tensest things I’ve ever sat through and everyone know what’s going to happen! Zero Dark Thirty may even improve upon The Hurt Locker and further proves Bigelow to be the most masterful director when it comes to modern war movies, this is absolutely fantastic go see it while it’s still on in the cinema.
The Master is P.T. Anderson’s sixth feature and his latest since 2007’s Oscar winning There Will Be Blood. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master tells the story of a stowaway who ends up on a ship with a group who all follow The Master’s (Hoffman) Cause, said to be based on scientology. Phoenix plays Freddie Quell who immediately hits things off with The Master, real name Lancaster Dodd, and is used as a test subject for some of Dodd’s new experimental processes designed to help members of The Cause to improve their understanding. As the film goes on it becomes clear that the members of The Cause have been trying to help Quell get over his strange psychological issues, which is quite clearly caused by sexual repression. Anderson creates a wonderful comparison between two kinds of insanity while examining the ideas of belief, cult and psychology.
The acting by the entire cast is second to none. Phoenix’s lead performance is flawless as he becomes this slightly strange bloke from the 50’s who is clearly completely lost within himself and in search of some identity and some love. Hoffman is similarly mesmerising as the charismatic Master who spends half his time being incredibly friendly and happy and the other half losing his shit whenever anyone tackles his belief system. No answers are ever given as to why what he’s saying is true. Amy Adams is also excellent as Dodd’s wife who actually seems to be a bit of a driving force behind The Cause’s cult like membership system opting to cut anyone out who does something she doesn’t like.
The narrative of the film at times feels non-existent and that’s because it mostly is. This film is not about plot this film is about it’s characters. And that makes it all the better. It is a study of human character and is left open to the viewers interpretation. Much like There Will Be Blood it is slow moving but it is paced in such a way for a reason; to make you think. And make you think The Master certainly will, I was lying in bed last night for ages thinking of what different things meant. One thing that I can be sure of, though, is that this is a great film further adding to Anderson’s sublime filmography this must be another shout for an Oscar.
Earlier this year McQueen made the rather arrogant remark that the only reason Shame wasn’t recognised at the Oscars was because the Academy is too scared of its subject matter. Focusing on Fassbender’s sex addicted city chap perhaps half of this statement is true, the Academy may have a bit of a problem with this kind of content but on the other hand it could just as well be down to the fact that it was nowhere near one of the best films of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I think, in many ways it’s a great film the performances, particularly Fassbenders’, are all fantastic. The script clearly has a very real issue at its core and overall the film really does say something about the problems that are found probably more than you could expect in everyday city life. Fassbenders’ character is a victim of the ease of society and while not very likeable we can sympathise with him. But that leads me to one of the things I disliked about the film, that none of the characters are really very likeable, at first you like Carey Mulligan but as the film goes on you find yourself wondering, really what her motive is for forcing herself into this man’s life. While the film is obviously trying to portray the bleakness that city life can cause it would have been a much better watch if you had someone to root for, still maybe what it lacks in likeability it makes up for in its message.