Why “Inherent Vice” will be the best film of 2014 – Paul Thomas Anderson

The trailer for PTA’s Inherent Vice was released by Warner Bros. on Monday and it looks INCREDIBLE. My argument to you is that it will be the best film of 2014, mostly based on the trailer. However, Paul Thomas Anderson has an impeccable record in cinema with acclaimed films such as ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Boogie Nights’.

“In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.”

Alongside this, the acting talents of Josh Brolin, Joachin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson are guaranteed to provide an entertaining, comedic experience that puts the years hollywood blockbusters to shame.

Anyways, I’ll leave the trailer for you all to enjoy, comments appreciated and more reviews and updates coming.

Much love

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To Catch A Thief – 1955 – Alfred Hitchcock

To Catch A Thief is an iconic classic work of cinema from the 1950s that offers a glimpse into the seamless high life of the French Riviera in the period. On top of this it tells a tale of an ex-thief who is being criticized as being the culprit behind a set of robberies that perfectly imitate his methodology of his undergoings 15 years hitherto.

IMDb synopsis: “When a reformed jewel thief is suspected of returning to his former occupation, he must ferret out the real thief in order to prove his innocence”

John Robie, played by Cary Grant, known as the cat, for his infamous abilities to slip in and out robbing the treasures of the richest bourgeois tenants of the Riviera offers a dazzling performance but is matched by the talents of Grace Kelly who steals the show as the husband-hunting daughter of one of the archetype victims of Robie’s robberies. The story is by no means intellectually challenging but as we all know 9 times out of 10 less is almost definitely more. Hitchcock himself described To Catch A Thief as a “lightweight story” but the gripping cinematography matched by the great script written by John Michael Hayes, Alec Coppel and the book by David Dodge made for 1 hour 45 minutes of pure joy from start to finish. The scene that particularly interested me, cinematically, was when they are in Frances Stevens room watching the fireworks out of the window, the lighting and set design was simply stunning and any filmmakers from the modern day would be proud to have made this, let alone to do so 60 years ago.

In conclusion, the film is one of Hitchcock’s forgotten masterpieces and deserves even more praise than it has alreqady receieved. A must-see. 7.5/10.

A CLockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick (1971)

One of Stanley Kubrick’s classics is A Clockwork Orange, a film that has a fearful reputation even 40 years later as one of the most daring and bold movies ever made. The tale of the gang leader whose pastimes include rape, ultra-violence and beethoven was never going to be easy viewing. However, nobody but Kubrick could tell it in a way that says so much, visually and semantically about such troubling issues as psychopathy, the future of society, and ethics in psychological treatment as well as such daring philosophical issues as answering the question “What does it mean to be human?”

This legendary examination is wonderfully thought-provoking, but on a personal level what struck me the most was not the insanity & absurdity of the films protagonist and narrator, rather, it was the insanity & absurdity of the people and world around him that was so provocative. By this I mean that in this film, there was no voice of reason or any sense of sanity or logic. From Alex DeLarge’s (Malcolm McDowell) parents who neglected and ignored him, to the doctors who mistreated him and the minister who visited him in chase of personal, political gain and also the policemen who abused him on different occasions throughout. In fact, I felt it so indicative of certain theories about modern society that, for example, the policemen who arrest Alex treat him in the same manner that he treated his own victims, proclaiming an abhorrent image of the policing system as well as of the crimes committed.

 

Nobody acts within the boundaries of every day logic, and for me, this was highly indicative of  the legendary literature of both Franz Kafka and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in their works such as ‘The Trial’ and ‘The Double’ respectively. What these classic books achieve is proclaiming a statement about society through the portrayal of absurdity and illogical behaviour from those surrounding the main characters. For example, in ‘The Double’, the protagonist, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, finds himself tortured by the introduction of his doppelganger who is favoured to him in every way by the world around him, from women, to friends, to employers. This classic story provides an inverting sense of societal claustrophobia that I would argue is adopted by Kubrick in ‘A Clockwork Orange’. By this I mean that despite Alex’s being ‘cured’ he is still at the manipulative fingertips of the world around him, eventually in those of the minister who uses his case to meet political ends. The main difference between these different articles are of course the much greater confused role of justice, or rather, injustice to determine the treatment of the main character. It also appears to be somewhat Kafkaesque in its generic sense of the term that it is dystopian, futuristic and a somewhat horrific world that Alex lives in. A rather subtle indication of this perhaps, could be in the horribly fluorescent coloured hair of some of the women in the film, provides us with an understated disposition that this world is bizarre and distasteful.

 

In conclusion, as one of the most controversial and highly debated films of the 20th century, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a wonderfully honest and brusque study and statement about the nature of the mentally ill and their image projected into the world around them. I give it a 7/10.

@ianmperrin

Le Mepris (Contempt) – Jean-Luc Godard (1963)

Contempt is one of the most highly regarded movies that Jean-Luc Godard has directed and not only is it both indicative of his classic Godard authorship, it is audacious and ambitious in his build-up of tension and use of dramatic proportionality. Moreover, it stars two icons of cinema, the legendary actress Brigitte Bardot who plays the teasing wife of a screenwriter. It also stars an iconic director, none other than Fritz Lang who plays himself directing a screen interpretation of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’. Having known this much information about the film, it was guaranteed to be an enticing watch that far from fell short of expectation. Among the classical ‘Godardian’ inferences and metaphors from literature and cinema alike, there is a desire to create an almost ‘Hitchcockian’ sense of tension and drama in the possibilities of what might happen and what might have happened.  This attempt is best seen through Godard’s use of music as well as the classic slow-zooming camerawork during an intense monologue or scene that is similar to such.

“Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to receive a better payment. As a result, underlying marital issues are unraveled and in tandem with this, issues of love, sex and marriage are challenged”

Bardot’s performance in the film is both as talent-filled and sexually alluring as anyone may have expected but as aesthetic and audacious as it is, Godard and Bardot manage to beautifully tread the line that can so easily be crossed into the territory of the inappropriate and that of poor judgment. Many films that tackle the topic of love & sex are misguided in their priorities and instead find the necessity to be crude and vulgar, but there is no beauty in this and in many cases no truth in it either. As  Contempt does not do this, for example, you never know whether Bardot’s character, Camille, ever really cheats on her husband and the reason for this is because it is not important to the story, it is not necessary and so it is not there. This judgment is where we see the true genius of Godard’s work and this contributes to the already adorned reputation of the movie.

To conclude, I will say that this film is an exhibition as Truffaut proclaimed of how a director’s cinematic career should escalate. He said that each film should be a continuation of the last, and this is the case as we have seen with Godard’s career. His films are all growing exponentially as Godard is discovering himself as a filmmaker. For this reason and many others, I give the film 7.5/10

Adieu. Thanks for reading.

@ianmperrin

La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty 2013) – Paolo Sorrentino

As a result of my naivete and lack of knowledge/experience in film I have to admit that this is the first film by Paolo Sorrentino that I have seen and also one of the very few Italian films I’ve managed to cross off the list (others including Bicycle Thieves & 8 1/2). However, this screening has inspired me to embark on a mini ‘movie adventure’ and will endeavour to watch the films that must have had such a huge influence on Sorrentino. The films I had in mind were La Dolce Vita, La Strada etc.

The reason for the decision is purely through the brilliance of this movie, most notably it’s cinematography but it’s narrative and storyline which border on perfection. The film follows the protagonist Jep who is an aged writer in modern Rome who experiences death in his ex-girlfriend and first love from his youth and as a result pursues the ‘Great Beauty’ and scorning his party-hard lifestyle. I knew from the first minute of viewing that I would enjoy the film as intensely as I did, the opening few minutes provided a wonderful glimpse into what I would experience over the next few hours.

You may watch the TIFF trailer here: 

The film was recommended to me by a friend and I have to admit that I knew little about Sorrentino or the film but was told it was essentially Malick meets Fellini and I’m not sure, from a purely technical perspective that I could summarize it better. The film had loose but recognizable cinematic similarities with Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ in that he absorbed that idyllic image of nature and bringing nature to the screen in a very similar way to Malick. The impact of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita must have been diligently subtle yet large due to the setting of Rome and genre of both movies. Although I wouldn’t call it influence or stealing (clearly) I did notice that Sorrentino adopted a character from Fellini’s 8 1/2 (see below), however, it is very plausible that it is a coincidence I felt it perhaps a subtle and silent homage to the king of Italian Cinema. Both characters played bit part roles in each film of probably equal screen time. Although there is no way of really knowing, as I said, I like to think that it is a silent tribute to Fellini’s masterpiece.

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The Great Beauty I would argue, is what critics would call a modern classic. It had all the qualities in acting, in script, and in content of a Fellini film or other films labelled as ‘classics’. It also managed to finely weave these qualities so deftly with the modern intricacy of technology and cinematic excellence that the advancement of film-making has allowed directors and directors of photography to achieve. Furthermore, it was filled with  sporadic bouts of beautiful monologues from the film’s protagonist himself, my favourite of which closed the entire movie:

“This is how it always ends. With death. But first there was life, hidden beneath the blah, blah, blah… It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise, silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty. And then the wretched squalor and miserable humanity. All buried under the cover of the embarrassment of being in the world, blah, blah, blah… Beyond there is what lies beyond. And I don’t deal with what lies beyond. Therefore… let this novel begin. After all… it’s just a trick. Yes, it’s just a trick.”

As a piece of literature alone this is almost poetic and beautiful in itself, but combined with the exquisite cinematic abilities of Sorrentino and his team it made for a truly brilliant ending, and creating an irony in itself, that the film about ‘The Great Beauty’ became the product to modern cinema of its proclamations. As far as writing and literature goes, about 30 minutes into the movie I thought that it had reminded me significantly of a book I’d read called Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, not in story but in style and its image of romance and beauty. Low and behold, about two or three times after that, Jep (the protagonist) mentioned Flaubert and how he wanted to write a book about nothing! Perhaps this too was a coincidence but can only be of great tribute to the director that his work is so indicative of classical writers and film-makers alike.

In summation, I would continue to assert that this film is the very definition of a modern classic: meaty in length and content, filled with comedic triumphs, unwinding the mysteries of sex and tackles the subject of religion with an entertaining and not in the least dull mentality. Moreover, Jep just might be the coolest person to exist in both fiction and reality – so that’s an added bonus. I give this film a confident 8.5/10.

For further discussion tweet me @ianmperrin.