Showing posts with label 1988. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1988. Show all posts

Monday, 13 May 2013

Dead Ringers

I watch David Cronenberg films for one reason and that is to have my eyes opened. Whether it is through the gore of an early film like Scanners or the beauty of a more recent movie like A Dangerous Method, his visuals are always striking and his themes, challenging. Few film makers can claim to have been as influential as Cronenberg while also avoiding the trappings of mainstream Hollywood and whatever he turns his attention to, something weird and unique will invariably be formed. Dead Ringers is his 1988 film which looks at the connection that twins share; biologically, mentally and physically. It straddles the gap between body horror and beautiful cinematography but was made firmly during his body horror era. For the director it is a somewhat restrained film but one which runs deep with ideas although doesn’t boil over into all out gore.

Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons) are brilliant gynaecologists and identical twins. Working out of their Toronto office, the two men specialise in fertility and their methods are both effective but daring. The twin’s lives are blurred by their frequent interchanging. The two impersonate each other at dinners, awards ceremonies and even with women. Early on in the film, the brothers begin to share the life of an actress called Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold) and when the quieter Beverly begins to fall for her, his more aggressive brother Elliot suspects that her presence is harming their relationship.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Grave of the Fireflies

I’ve only seen a couple of Studio Ghibli films in the past but each has had an interesting and often unique story. Grave of the Fireflies is the least fantastical and most hard hitting film I’ve seen from the studio and it’s probably also the best. Set at the closing stages of the Second World War it details the struggle for survival of two orphaned children called Seita and Setsuko. The movie has an anti war message at its centre but its main themes are of survival and of sibling love. With their father away at war and their mother killed by falling bombs, the young pair are forced to fend for themselves in a Japan which has no use for them. After initially finding a home with a distant aunt, they soon discover that they aren’t wanted and strike out on their own, finding refuge in an abandoned air raid shelter, scavenging and stealing what food they can lay their hands on.

Grave of the Fireflies is a depressing film both for its overarching themes and also for its individual character arcs. Although I’d heard it wasn’t all fun and games, I was still a little shocked by the brutal honesty with which it depicts war and the ending which is far from what you’d expect for what is essentially a young person’s cartoon. Despite the harrowing themes and images, personally I’d be happy to show the film to a bright child of about ten. If it could hold their attention I think that the movie would both interest and educate them and perhaps open their eyes to their species past, informing their decisions in the future.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Die Hard

One of the most iconic action movies from the decade of the action movie, Die Hard made a movie star of TV actor Bruce Willis and has thus far led to three sequels with a forth on the way. A critical hit upon its release and an enduring cult hit, Die Hard has been immortalised in popular culture thanks to its lone hero central character, gritty action and signature quote “Yippie-ki-yay motherfucker!” Even a quarter of a century on I’m able to watch Die Hard with the same joy and enthusiasm as it was first greeted when I was a mere toddler. The story is simple. New York City Cop John McLane (Bruce Willis) is on his way from New York to L.A to be with his estranged family at Christmas. He is dropped off at his wife’s Christmas party in the Nakatomi Plaza building but soon finds the office has been taken hostage by a group of mostly European terrorists lead by the masterfully camp Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). With just his wits, a vest and handgun, McLane must take back the building, save his wife and save Christmas.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Cinema Paradiso

"Out of the fire of love come ashes. Even the greatest love eventually fizzles out"

Giuseppe Tornatore’s much heralded 1988 film Cinema Paradiso begins with a famous film director in Rome called Salvatore (Jaques Perrin) receiving news from his estranged mother that a man called Alfredo has died. The director then remembers back to the mid 1940s when he was a young child in the Sicilian village of Giancaldo. The young Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio), nicknamed Toto is a highly intelligent six year old who becomes fascinated with cinema during his frequent visits to the local picture house Cinema Paradiso. The boy develops a friendship with an old projectionist called Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) and begs him to teach him the art of film projection. Alfredo is hesitant at first, deeming it an unfit job for the sprightly Toto but through charm and persistence the boy finally becomes an apprentice. A few years later the now adolescent Toto (Marco Leonardi) is running the Cinema Paradiso and begins messing around with his own films. One day he spots a beautiful girl at the railway station (Agnese Nano) and his infatuation and love of film becomes shared with his love for the girl.

The film follows Salvatore/Toto from a young boy, right through to his middle age and is one of the most loving films I’ve seen in a long time. This is not only a romantic drama but also a love letter to film itself.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


"Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice"

A young couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are driving back from town one day when they crash their car and die. It takes them a while to realise though as they end up back in their house but with a new family, father (Jeffrey Jones), Step-mum (Catherine O’Hara) and Goth Daughter (Winona Ryder) moving in. As they become aware of their death they try to haunt the family in order to get them to leave but despite turning to the ‘Handbook for the Recently Deceased’ for help, they are unable to be seen. Instead they turn to a bio-exorcist called Betelgeuse, a crazed, perverted and unstable dead man who agrees to help scare the family off.

Unbelievably I’d never seen this film before having confused it in my head with Candyman, a film I saw aged about seven which caused nightmares for months. I’m so glad I’ve finally watched this bizarre comedy/horror. The film contains everything that the best Tim Burton films do; odd characters and locations, unusual and distinctive sets and darkly comic plotlines.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Crocodile Dundee II

Coming two years after Crocodile Dundee, 1988’s Crocodile Dundee II sees Paul Hogan reprise his role as Australian crocodile hunter, Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee. While the plot is largely forgettable and not really why one would watch a Dundee film, it involves Mick trying to acclimatise to city life in New York when his wife Sue is kidnapped by a Columbian drug cartel.

The enjoyment here doesn’t lie with the story but in watching Mick attempt to navigate through New York City, misinterpreting almost everything around him. It is fun to remember an age where a man coming from a developed country such as Australia would have so much trouble understanding life in another developed country. It is perhaps hard to imagine now in a world with social media, the internet and more TV channels than you could ever want to watch that Mick Dundee would be so out of his depth in New York. But just twenty years ago these things weren’t available and the world was a much larger place.

One of the pleasures of this film is to see New York as it was in the late 80s. While New York always looks beautiful to me, seeing it then reminds me of some of the great films set in the city around that time. Another reason to enjoy the film is the performance of Hogan who is loveable as Mick Dundee and it is not surprising that he eventually went back to the role in 2001 with a third Dundee film.

... This is a knife!