Showing posts with label 2001. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2001. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Beautiful Mind

I saw A Beautiful Mind sometime in 2003 when I was still living at home with my parents. I remember that we all loved it and for a little while it became my favourite film. (Note I discovered Martin Scorsese the next year). Ten years later and I barely remembered a thing about it. I remembered Russel Crowe and something about maths and spying but that was all. I didn’t even remember how remarkably well formed Jennifer Connolly looked. I certainly didn’t recall any twists or surprises. Coming back to the film after ten years in my bid to watch every Oscar Best Picture winner (the film won in 2002) I was left disappointed by some very obvious twists and character development, something my young mind didn’t pick up on in 2003 and had subsequently forgotten. This early flaw put a dampener on the entire film and although it is very good in places, I could never quite get over the early let down.

The film is based on the life of Mathematician John Nash (Crowe) and we pick up his story as he begins his Doctoral thesis at Princeton in 1947. It is immediately obvious that he is highly gifted, egotistical and sure of his talents but lacks interpersonal skills. This is something which is picked up upon by his class mates and he makes very few friends in his time at College. He does gradually become acquainted with his eccentric English room mate Charles Herman (Paul Bettany) and the two remain close for many years. After a major breakthrough at Collage, Nash begins working at MIT but his unusual personality begins to develop into something more and he is taunted by mental illness which interrupts his work and threatens to break up his family.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Fellowship of the Ring

In December 2001 the film world was enthralled by the first part of New Zealand Director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not since Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epics of the 1950s had filmmaking been seen on such a scale as Jackson’s Fantasy adaptation. Going on to make close to $900 million worldwide and the recipient of four Oscars and five BAFTAS including Best Film, The Fellowship of the Ring helped to shape the way films began to be produced in the early part of cinema’s second century. Shot entirely in the Director’s home nation over several years the Lord of the Rings trilogy soon became one of the most successful and critically acclaimed film trilogies of all time and eleven years ago I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever seen.

Featuring a large ensemble cast the plot of the first film focuses on the grouping of nine individuals who team up to destroy a powerful ring that threatens to destroy peace in Middle Earth. Hobbits Frodo, Samwise, Merry and Pippen join Wizard Gandalf, Dwarf Gimli, Elf Legolas and men Aragorn and Boromir as they set out from the Elven city of Rivendell on a quest to Mordor to ‘cast the ring into the fiery chasm from whence it came.’ Along the way their progress is halted by suspicion, in fighting, and Orcs, a vicious Elf like creature, bred for war.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Spirited Away

Often regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time and Japan’s highest grossing film in history at the time of its release, Spirited Away is an animated adventure, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Ten year old Chihiro is travelling with her parents to their new house when her father takes a wrong turn that leads to what looks like an abandoned Amusement Park. Though scared, Chihiro follows her parents who find the Park deserted but discover food has been left out. As the parents begin to tuck in Chihiro looks around and discovers a Bath House where she meets Haku, a boy who tells her to get back across the river before sunset. As she returns to her parents she discovers they have been turned into pigs and she is stuck in a strange world of spirits where her kind is not welcome.

Spirited Away reminded me of some of the great children’s adventures such as The Goonies or Labyrinth but also features the kind of animation that reminded me of my childhood. The hand drawn style is reminiscent of classic Disney but also of the cartoons that I was bought up on in the late 80s and early 90s. It doesn’t appear to be pushing any boundaries but is deceptively deep and beautiful.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mulholland Drive

Ooookaayyyy…. So. On Mulholland Dr. L.A. a woman (Laura Harring) is in the back of a car. In the front seat is a man with a gun to her head. Before he is able to fire at her another car hits theirs killing everyone but the woman. She escapes through scrub land and finds herself in a small apartment complex where she is able to sneak into the apartment of an old woman who is leaving town for a while. Meanwhile Betty (Naomi Watts), a young woman with acting aspirations arrives in L.A. and arrives at the same apartment which belongs to her Aunt. She goes inside but finds the escaped woman in the shower. The woman is unable to remember her name and after telling Betty all she remembers is an accident, the two of them set about trying to discover her identity. For some reason the woman’s bag is full of $100 bills and a single blue key. After much searching and seemingly unlinked sub plots a blue box is discovered and opened with the key. After that my internal monologue went a bit like this; “Wait... No So… That means… No… But… He was… Hang on… Ay?... Huh?... Who’s that?... Oh of course… Nope.

This is a completely mental film but I thought it was great. For two thirds it is a mystery with the odd surrealist moment thrown in. I found this part of the film really interesting and complex and had no idea what was happening or where it was going. Despite this I was enjoying the ride. Then it goes crazy. Suddenly people aren’t who they were and characters appear in strands of the story that they had no connection with. One character goes from an amnesiac to a lesbian to the partner of a film director in a couple of scenes while another goes from a vibrant and talented young woman to down and out prostitute. I don’t know how or why and on further reading it turns out that the cast didn’t either.