Enemy [Mild Spoilers]: when a history lecturer spots his doppelgänger in the background of a movie scene he becomes increasingly fascinated by the actor. Quite a difficult film to articulate, this probably falls vaguely under the ‘Psychological Thriller’ banner. There’s a deliberately slow and intense build up, magnified by a doom-laden score that the intensity relies heavily on. This is completely Jake’s film, as we see him pull off playing two people, and then each character ‘impostering’ the other (Imagine Face/Off^²). Stylistically, there’s an intense amber hue for the duration, which I didn’t really see the point of – or understand. Naturally, there’s a lot of playing around with duality, repetition, mirrors, doubles, from the get-go, and although the film’s not explicitly wrapped up (the ending is a bit of a mystery/clusterfuck) there are a lot of clues and lines in there; namely that our lead may have a split personality. Definitely the least accessible film since he started working with ‘big’ names; this bleak, tense, and dark thriller is the perfect appetiser for Arrival; and lays out the “un film de Denis Villeneuve” style that he’s kept right through to his current, mega-budget films.
Porky’s [Steelbook] a group of teenagers in 1950s Florida head to Porky’s strip club to get some action, but nothing goes to plan with this – or any of their sexual misadventures. Undoubtedly one of the most (in)famous coming-of-age teen-sex comedy flicks, Porky’s is less of a “film” and more of a bunch of individual scenes edited together to form a loose plot. There are so many side-stories like the jew-hater, bad biker dad, and horny P.E. teachers that really have nothing to do with the premise. There’s also far too many characters, none of which are the central focus, which makes it all seem even more tangential. But Porky’s was never trying to woo the critics, and for a sex–comedy there’s enough of both to make it a genre-classic, from the infamous voyeuristic shower scene to the 5-minute penis report (not to mention that it’s a High School where they only seem to teach sports classes and playground hijinks) it’s packed with entertaining stuff. While it’s a little dated (and even timid) compared to teen movies these days Porky’s is the definitive blueprint / Supertext for the genre; opening the door for films like American Pie, Superbad, Van Wilder, Road Trip… It’s good, it’s funny and the Blu Ray looks lovely. Great little Mr Skin feature about 80s skin-flicks too!
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: shows two married couples and what happens when infidelity and ‘real life’ takes over. It’s starting to feel a bit like Woody Allen only has one story, and he just changes the
locations, names and occupations of his characters. Once again, the focus is on some ridiculously beautiful, artistic, troubled and self-obsessed middle class people that are quite hard to empathise with. This one struggles, trying to juggle far too many characters and flesh out each of their stories: the divorced female wreck, mid-life crisis pensioner, wife seeking family, disillusioned writer, art gallery owner, exotic love interest, blonde bimbo… As we expect from Allen, there’s some sporadic narration by the most Jewish voice ever, a really adorable ragtime old-fashioned score, and a whimsical / romanticised vibe – although I spent over half of the time shouting in my head “THIS IS NOT LONDON!!” There are some really nice touches; great lines hidden among the script, proper belly laughs and the odd comedy character – like the charlatan. It is enjoyable, but not much more. Don’t get me wrong, I like Allen but he’s been doing this schtick for far too long now.
Maléna: From the writer/director of Cinema Paradiso, this nostalgia driven film is about a teenage boy’s first obsession with a lady, Monica Bellucci, who the entire town perves on & gossips about. We all remember our first unattainable crush, but this film goes little too far as we see the kid transform from casual degenerate, to voyeur, then pant-snatchng sex-pest weirdo-stalker… definitely take this with a pinch of salt! The passion and intensity of Italians really shines through in the characters, which makes is great to watch, if a little OTT, and the visuals harness the best of picturesque Italy / Sicily. The tone of the film takes a massive U-turn near the end, from sugar-coated to bleak, although it coincides with the main’s realisation about his love. In the end, as she was the focus of pretty much every scene this film is to Monica Bellucci what Volver was to Penelope Cruz, but a lot kinkier with much more nudity (unfortunately 15 minutes of skin is cut from the UK release!!). But why do directors always give her on-screen beatings?!?! The cinematography, Bellucci and accompanying score were the only real stars of this.
Shortbus: follows the shortcomings of several sexual ‘misfits’: a gay couple on the rocks, dominatrix that can’t connect and sex therapist that’s never orgasmed… Be warned, don’t watch it with your parents as some scenes are pretty much porn. The opening of this is among the most unforgettable of any movie, as are many of the zany characters you meet, and several of the scenes – it’s pretty much a one-of-a-kind. Despite being chocked-full of taboo and graphic (real!) sex Shortbus does a fantastic job of remaining funny and charming for the duration, because the emphasis is on the people and their emotions, not the sex. There’s some funky animations of NYC and most of the characters are likable. The film remains interesting as each person’s story progresses and the climactic ending is really upbeat and fitting with the movie as a whole. It’s not for the prudish, and because of the warnings on the box you’ll probably feel a bit dirty just buying this – although it’s totally worth the momentary shame! Extraordinary comedy about sexual emotions!
Together: set back in 1975, it documents the make ups and break ups of a crowded hippy commune in Stockholm – doesn’t sound great but this is one of the best drama films out there, easily. Other than a few zooms there are no fancy tricks to this film, leaving everything to come from the characters; vegetarians, homosexuals, hippies, confused teenagers and alcoholics under one roof – it’s basically a scrip-writer’s wet dream. There are no main roles, just an ensemble of credible characters that you can relate to – from the uneasy teen to the textbook socialist – which makes the story very absorbing. There’s some nice subtle and awkward comedy hidden there too. It may be a tad slow for some but has one of the best endings that I can remember. All in, it’s a simple feel good tale about the ups and downs of living with people. This is was only Moodysson’s 2nd film, and between this, Fucking Amal and Lilja-4-ever he definitely started his career with a bang. We’re better together.
Hallam Foe: psychological profile of a teenage voyeur two years after his mum suspiciously killed herself. Bell plays a believable rogue nutter, and the rest of the cast aren’t that bad at all. There’s no doubting that this tried to be a totally ‘Scottish’ film, especially given all the shady characters and coarse dialogue. The story however is far too convenient, unrealistic, randy and plain old weird. In doing this, the film ends up being a fiction piece, as opposed to believable, which ruins it a bit. It’s not garbage, but certainly isn’t great. The main problem I have with ‘Scottish films’ (this, Shallow grave, Trainspotting, Red Road, Sweet Sixteen…) is that they almost always present all Scots as violent/murderous raging alcoholics that will pump anything. Overall, it’s interesting, but don’t go out of your way to get this.