“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.“
– Patti Smith
– Patti Smith
I had a week off work some time ago, so I decided to rewatch all three extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back. Much like the movies themselves, it was an epic undertaking that started at around 9am and, with various breaks, came to the conclusion at almost midnight. I’m happy to say that they are still marvellous films and crème de la crème of the fantasy genre. I thought it would be fun to do a personal Top 10 moments from the trilogy and talk about the scenes or moments that, for various reasons, stayed with me the most. I also realised, when doing the list, what a huge part Howard Shore’s incredible score played in making many of them memorable.
I didn’t get to see this Coen brothers cult comedy upon its release in 1998, partly because a film critic I more or less trusted gave it a tepid review – this was back in the dark ages of dial-up internet when I only just tiptoed into the world of online film criticism. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t watch it then, because it took me a while to really “get” the Coens and their brand of offbeat humour. I remember watching Fargo and thinking, meh I can’t see what the fuss was all about, whereas now I’d probably appreciate it more, so here’s another movie on my re-watch list.
Red curtains and eerie Angelo Badalamenti score? Must be a David Lynch movie! Despite being a massive Twin Peaks fan, I’m not all that familiar with his filmography, so I decided to watch this movie which was also a big breakthrough for Our Own Naomi Watts. I was prepared for off-kilter weirdness, but it’s safe to say the movie exceeded my expectations on that front and messed with my head like few films ever had since… well Twin Peaks probably. There’s something about the Lynch brand of horror – the distortion of the mundane, the vivid unsettling imagery – that really gets under my skin.
An earlier Martin Scorsese film that’s something of a departure from the other films of his I’ve watched, which might as well have been rated “M” for “Manly”. Not that his movies lack memorable female characters, but they’re usually side characters in very masculine stories and are rarely the focus. Other than having a female protagonist, this movie is also an interesting exception in how low-key it is. There are no gangsters, famous boxers or extraordinary stakes or highs and lows in sight – it’s basically a slice-of-life comedy-drama about a recently widowed woman and her twelve-year-old son, shot in a restrained and unshowy manner which suits it perfectly.
Watched Oliver Stone’s much-maligned historical epic about Alexander the Great, the famous Macedonian king who conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks by the age of thirty. It’s a messy film with a miscast lead, but it honestly wasn’t as bad as its reputation (and 16% Rotten Tomatoes rating) would have me think.
I’m feeling a strong sense of déjà vu since I’ve reviewed Paula Hawkins’ best-selling thriller barely a week ago. I thought that the book was pretty average, but I was curious to see the film and especially what Emily Blunt, who is one of my recent favourite actresses, would do with the main role. As I had expected, she was the only truly remarkable thing in this decent but workmanlike adaptation.
It can be hard to make a story about an unexplained mystery feel dramatically satisfying, yet Peter Weir’s haunting, mesmerising, and utterly singular early film manages just that. It tells of the strange disappearance of three private schoolgirls and their teacher on a Valentine’s Day in 1900, during a day out at the Hanging Rock in Macedon Ranges, and the reverberating impact it has on the school and the local community.
Another stylish Martin Scorsese classic about a bunch of horrible people you can’t help but be fascinated by.