With books and movies, I don’t usually try to predict where a story might go, and to be honest I never expected to get analytical about a series I’ve only been a casual fan of before. However, many people who love fiction have their personal storytelling catnip, and mine is the theme of redemption. I can’t explain exactly what it is about redemption that moves me so, but it surely can’t be a coincidence that the last time I got an urge to write long in-depth speculations was after the sixth Harry Potter book and that ending, which made me certain that, despite all appearances to the contrary, there was some powerful story going on.
Contains spoilers about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, if you’re one of the ten people on the planet who haven’t seen it yet.
I think it’s pretty telling that the only time this Disney reinvention of the old fairy tale truly soars is when it recreates the classic cursing scene, in which Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent comes uninvited to the christening of baby princess Aurora to bestow a terrible curse. Dressed in black, eyes ablaze, with her naturally exaggerated features made even more striking courtesy of make-up master Rick Baker, Jolie looks utterly fabulous and alive and she visibly revels in the mayhem and revenge Maleficent unleashes. If only the rest of this limp if beautiful movie felt as spirited.
A striking and mesmerising documentary with no conventional narrative, Baraka presents a collection of sights and sounds from around the globe – mountains, places of worship, cities, wilderness – as a sort of lush travelogue, set alternately to tribal beats and rather New Age-y soundtrack. The sights of the movie are not always beautiful, detouring at one point to the humanity’s darker places like the concentration camps and Cambodia’s killing fields, as well as sweatshops and overcrowded slums in South America and Asia. This is probably going to be the shortest film review I’ll ever do, because this movie is one to experience, rather than talk about. It’s an ambitious achievement that really leaves you in awe of the world’s sheer variety and splendour, and reminds me of the sadness I always feel at the thought of seeing only a tiny little sliver of the world in my lifetime. It’s a moving portrayal of faith and nature even if you’re an atheist like myself and find hippy-drippy sentiments maybe a tad cringey.
Decided to catch up on one of the few Pixar movies I still haven’t watched. I think it got a fairly muted response upon its release compared to most Pixar films, so having lowered expectations I actually enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Wonderful Peter Weir film starring Harrison Ford that’s part thriller, part fish-out-of-water story about culture clash and part romance. While the thriller element is just okay if slickly made, it’s really there to explore an unusual setting and a growing connection between a man and a woman from two very different worlds. The only bad thing I could say about it is the dated 80s soundtrack, but it’s a small nitpick.
Michael Haneke’s Hidden was one of those strange unsettling films with one truly shocking scene that lingers in your mind for a very long time, so I was curious to see more of his stuff. The Piano Teacher certainly ticks the controversial and shocking boxes, but I’m afraid I was less than impressed this time around.