Tag Archives: film

Samson & Delilah (2009)

There’s something about the Australian landscape that just feels right. A warm-hued blend of mystery, danger, and possibility, the “bush” is at the heart of myriad Australian films. As Samson & Delilah begins, the desert serves as an eerily picturesque backdrop for a broken-down town. It is natural, yet the natural is boring, the familiar repetitious, and the everyday suffocating—even debilitating. Our first protagonist, Samson, is an aimless teen who meanders the streets in a wheelchair, alone. To cope, he inhales fumes, keeping a can of gasoline or paint by his bed roll. Delilah, conversely, is a caregiver to her aging Nana, who needs medication and, unlike Samson, can’t move without a wheelchair. Nana, however, is a remarkable painter of traditional geometric forms, her income just enough for food and fire but little else. Continue reading

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Force Majeure (2014)

Hear: electric toothbrushes drone—cleaning teeth—barely enough to drown out underpinning fears.

See: loose clothing, bare skin—despite the frigid clime basic needs are met.

Taste: the fluoride paste, eager to be spit.

 

Brushing teeth is a motif in Force Majeure and it is easy to see why. First, the industrial hum evokes a subjective torment cemented in the cinema psyche by the horror genre. Second, the familiarity and comfort of the scene bring to light insulating technologies: heat, light, warm clothes, water. Needing nothing, the family nevertheless appears hollowed in a sense, isolated from one another as well as their surroundings. Third, each character sees his or herself reflected as both one and as a group. Identity is the main concern of this film, particularly the challenge of self-identification in the face of chaos (“force majeure”) and a pastiche of family scripts (patriarchy, feminism, etc.).

More on each of these considerations.

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Noah (2014)

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Let’s deal with this nagging thing right away: This is a very Western imagining of ancient Mesopotamia. We can talk clothes: Noah’s jean and jean-jacket stylings, Ham’s buzz cut and Naameh’s perfect stray curls. Going deeper, we can talk about how patriarchy becomes individualism and how the youth of Noah’s sons allows for familiar heterosexual coupling tropes. These things are a bit grating.

But I am completely missing the point. Continue reading

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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Scorsese has been telling this story for years: Goodfellas, Gangs of New York–and now–The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a story about a dream, an American dream, and the people who try to remove the roadblocks to attaining it. Scorsese has never been an idealist; his character’s don’t achieve success and its trappings by birth or any sort of entitlement. Rather, his films are crime films for a reason: success cannot always be had by peaceful means. Scorsese’s protagonists are often endearing Nietzscheans, endearing not only for clever personalities and determination of spirit, but because of their humanism–their desire to see their deserving, overlooked friends achieve success alongside them. In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belford becomes a Messiah to his “wolf-pit” of young, ex-working class yuppies. Scorsese, in my opinion, masterfully manages to arouse a measure of sympathy for Belford (particularly through breaking of the fourth wall) despite Belford’s constantly deplorable actions. A large part of this sympathy, too, is grounded in the “underdog” nature of the blue-collar salesmen which Belford surrounds himself with. Can they be faulted for visions of the American dream? Continue reading

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Deconstructing the Auteur

Recently, I’ve increasingly felt like a failure as an aspiring director because my intuitions aren’t strong enough to make meaningful improvements to a film I am working on. Rather, I feel like I just keep experimenting, endlessly. I guess I always thought that a director should have a vision for everything that goes into a film. Therefore, my lack of vision is a testament to my lack of potential as a director. Continue reading

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