Sunday, 26 September 2010

A Lonely Man's Last Day

A Single Man

11 December, 2009

Directed by 
Tom Ford
Produced by:
Tom Ford
Robert Salerno 
Chris Weitz 
Written by: 
Tom Ford
David Scearce 
Christopher Isherwood  
Colin Firth
Julianne Moore 
Matthew Goode
Nicholas Hoult  

Summary: A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, a gay English College Professor, living in 1960s Los Angeles.  George is dealing with depression after his partner of 16 years, Jim, died in a car crash. George has decided that life is no longer worth living and is planning to commit suicide – however spending time with his best friend Charly (Julianne Moore) and student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) he starts to reconsider. 
My Favourite Scene: Although it sounds strange, I really enjoyed the scene where George is planning to commit suicide. He is sat on his bed, with the gun pointed into his mouth, but he cannot get comfortable. He moves the pillows into every different position. He lies down, sits up and tries halfway but he just cannot feel at ease. 
He then decides that dying in the bathroom would be more practical, but then again he changes his mind. George goes back to his room, pulls out a sleeping bag and crawls into it. With the gun raised, the phone rings. He finally gives up and goes to Charly’s house. 

The suicide notes are written, and funeral clothes are ready, but it seems no matter how much preparation George does, he cannot bring himself to pull the trigger and end his life. George went through the day knowing that when he arrived home he was going to kill himself, but when the time came, he just could not do it. I like this scene because there is the contrast of the humour of George’s thinking behind how he wanted to be himself and the serious reality of what he is actually doing. 

My Favourite Quotes: 
George: “Looking in the mirror staring back at me isn't so much a face as the expression of a predicament.”

George: “(to Kenny, after being asked why he did not want a shower) Oh, I'm fine. I'm English, we like to be cold and wet.”
My Thoughts: I think Colin Firth is the sort of actor who suits one role. Unfortunately he has been typecast as the ‘Mr. Darcy heartthrob’ and because of this, I cannot imagine him playing any other part. Firth actually received an Oscar nomination for his performance in ‘A Single Man’ - however I felt that in some parts, his acting was poor and unconvincing.

The other element of this film which I found disappointing was the development of the relationships. Excect for Charly, the roles of Kenny and Carlos felt like cameos. During the film flashbacks were shown of George’s memory with Jim. It was strange because it seemed either there should have been just one flashback or several more. The depth of the relationship between George and Jim was not properly explored. Besides the scene where they are reading together on the sofa, most of the flashbacks did not show how important they were to each other. 
I thought that the use of colour in the film was interesting. Tom Ford said that he wanted to use colour to reflect how George was feeling. I think he did this well. In some parts, everything was grey and bleak but in others things were colourful and bright. Through the film the audience saw the progression from the beginning, where everything is dull, to towards the end where colour was used more, to convey George’s changing emotions. 
Considering the media hype of this film and Colin Firth’s Oscar nomination, I have to say I was slightly disappointed. I enjoyed  Julianne Moore’s performance and I think the script was impressive - but I felt the film as a whole, lacked substance. I think it would have been more powerful to have had no flashbacks and just had the audience feel George’s loss from how he was feeling rather than what he remembered. 

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Therapy, drugs and commitment issues in New York City

Annie Hall

20 April, 1977

Directed by: 
Woody Allen
Produced by:
Charles H. Joffe 
Jack Rollins
Written by: 
Woody Allen 
Marshall Brickman
Woody Allen
Diane Keaton
Tony Roberts
Carol Kane
Paul Simon
Shelley Duvall 
Christopher Walken
Jeff Goldblum
Sigourney Weaver 
Summary: This film tells the story of comedian Alvy Singer’s (Woody Allen) rocky relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). The film shows the course  of their relationship, from its highs to its lows. It is intertwined with flashbacks about Alvy’s difficult childhood and his (and Annie’s) past relationships. Alvy is an organised mess and in the words of Annie he is “incapable of enjoying life.” This serious representation of Alvy’s life as a Jewish New Yorker remains humorous from beginning till end. 

My Favourite Scene: One of the reasons I loved this film was because it did not have a typical Hollywood happy ending where everything turns out perfectly, because that is not real. That is not life. 

After Alvy flies to California and Annie refuses to return home with him, he finishes writing his first play, in which he uses the last the conversation that he and Annie had in California, where she tells him: “You're like New York.  You're an island.” However, in the play, Alvy’s character takes control and walks away from the relationship, but Sunny (based on Annie) tells him she is going with him and that she loves him

I thought this was a strong scene because it reflected how Alvy wanted things to turn out. He says “You know how you're always trying to get things to come out perfect in art because it's real difficult in life.” Which I think sums it up brilliantly.

My Favourite Quotes: 
Alvy Singer: (In California, talking about award shows) “What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler.”

Alvy Singer: Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way
sometimes and I live here.”

Alvy Singer: “If I get too mellow, I ripen and then rot.” 
My Thoughts: I think it’s very rare to find a talented actor, writer and director like Woody Allen. I loved the introduction to this film. It was very refreshing and different compared to so many other rom-coms. Alvy’s character often ‘breaks the fourth wall’ and speaks to the audience. He also enters his and other character’s minds and memories, as well as using animation (for the scene of Alvy and his relationship with the witch). 
Something I love about Alvy is his paranoia. He thinks everyone is judging him and this constantly worries him. Something about himself that affects him is that fact that he’s Jewish. Living in New York, relatively fresh from the Second World War, Alvy faces persecution from Annie’s ‘Grammy’. Grammy (according to Annie) would call him a “real Jew”, to which Alvy replies sarcastically “Oh. Thank you.”

Alvy’s also uses humour as a defence. Whenever in an awkward situation, he cracks a joke to break the tension. I think the most important issue the film deals with is commitment. Alvy knows he loves her, but it is not until the end of the film
that he realises how much he needs her. 

The only negative thought I have about this film is Paul Simon, who plays Tony Lacey. Unfortunately (as I expected when I found out he was playing a character) his performance was disappointing. He is an excellent and talented musician, but in terms of his acting performance, it lacked emotion. He seemed very awkward and did not deliver his lines well. 

Other than Simon’s performance, I enjoyed every moment of this film. I particularly liked poor Annie’s first performance at the bar, where the sound system was failing, glasses were crashing, people were talking and even someone’s phone went off! I loved the contrast between her singing performances in the film, because it demonstrated how Alvy had changed how she felt about herself.

He had definitely made her believe in herself. I think this comedy really captures real life in the way that others do not. It was not predictable at all and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I think Annie Hall rates top of my best romantic comedies.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

When your chairs start to stack themselves you know something is not right...


June 4, 1982

Directed by: 
Tobe Hooper

Produced by:
Frank Marshall
Steven Spielberg

Written by:   
Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg
Michael Grais
Mark Victor
Craig T. Nelson
JoBeth Williams
Beatrice Straight
Dominique Dunne
Oliver Robins
Heather O’Rourke 
Zelda Rubinstein  

Summary: Steve and Diane Freeling, along with their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne, move to a quiet town in California, where their house is haunted by ghosts. At first they seem friendly, but soon they turn vicious and take the youngest daughter, Carol Anne, from her family.

My Favourite Scene: One of the parapsychologists goes into the kitchen to get a snack and finds a piece of meat which begins to move across the table. It then falls on the floor and maggots appear out of it. 

He then runs to the bathroom to be sick and looks in the mirror. Blood begins to run down his face and pieces of flesh start to fall off. Soon, his face is just bone and blood. Then suddenly, he is back to normal. Although this is probably one that many will not remember from the film, I think it is important because it highlights what is real and what is in their minds.

My Favourite Quotes
Tangina: “It lies to her. It tells her things only a child can understand. It's been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast.”

Diane: (after Carol Anne’s bird dies) “Oh... Oh shit, Tweety, couldn't you have waited until a school day?” 
My Thoughts: Living in the 21st Century, the standard of CGI I am used to in films is so different to this 1982 production. The tree which took Robbie looked like something out of Harry Potter (and not in a good way) and the dead corpses looked completely plastic (even though they were actually real skeletons!). 

However, that is not really the scary element to this film. The concept itself that there were spirits in their house which wanted to hurt them is scary. Someone’s home is supposed to protect them, but it did the opposite -  which I think made this film terrifying. 

There is definitely something weird about a little girl talking to someone (or something) that no one else can see. It is not surprising that a little girl is used for this role, as she is so innocent and vulnerable. For me, the really important message from this film was the love that Caro Anne’s parent’s had for her. Diane really fought for her daughter and was prepared to do anything that would save her. 

Something about this film that was really freaky was the clown in Robbie and Carol Anne’s bedroom! I knew when Robbie looked up from his bedcovers and it was not there, that something bad was about to happen. I kept thinking “If you are so scared of the clown, why have you not moved it?” 

I like this film because there is something different about it. It is not knife-wielding maniacs, running around chopping people’s heads off. This is a classic ghost haunting story, and although there were no ‘hide behind a cushion’ moments, it was truly chilling.