Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

One of my favourite films of all times couldn’t go without a review.

Marc Foster’s 2005 high-impact drama was very much overlooked upon release. Scripted by David Benioff (The 25th Hour, Game of Thrones), arguably one of the finest young writers out there, and starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Bob Hoskins and the more recently celebrated Ryan Gosling, the psychological thriller category under which falls this gem of a film belies the visually stunning poetry of its cinematography.

Sam Foster (McGregor) and his partner Lila (Watts) live a comfortable life in New York, each of them dedicated to their passion and career, psychiatry and painting respectively. When Sam takes on suicidal patient Henry (Gosling), unsettling thoughts, events and manifestations start seeping into his existence.

Is it a dream? Or a nightmare, more like. Is it madness we’re dealing with? Whose madness? The therapist’s? Or his patient’s, drawing the therapist into his own world? Or is it us he’s drawing in? We hear Lila call Sam “Henry”: is then she the one who’s mad? We, the audience, know she called him that, we heard it, with our very own ears. So is the therapist drawing us into his madness? But he’s not the patient…

All throughout the film, there are signs – apart from the all-round fucked-up narrative – subtle signs that there’s something deeper going on. Something we can’t make sense of and something the character probably only senses without ever getting close to identifying. There are visual clues – all the things happening in doubles – the two girls, with the brown bob and yellow raincoat, simultaneously exiting opposite sides of the car, opening the boot, and simultaneously pulling out two identical suitcases. This, in a remote corner of the overall street view as it’s shot; easily missable, nagging at our subconscious nonetheless. The twins (or clones) passing Sam in the corridor. The omnipresent symmetry. And the cinematography – the staircase!! Everything leads to an explanation of the truth behind the story that we’re not equipped to decipher or even grasp – and so we’re contrived to sitting back and enjoying the aesthetics of it. The beauty of it.

And the final scene – and it is only in the very final scene – when everything falls into place, everything we’ve seen, everything we’ve questioned, everything we’ve noticed and even things we haven’t – it all flashes before our eyes, and it doesn’t make sense but we understand it. Just as our character does. The absoluteness of the tragedy grips us, while the promise of redemption in the form of a new beginning leaves us wondering whether we’re choking back tears of grief or joy.

Now that is cinematic genius.

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There’s great news in store for film lovers and geeks everywhere: new web app Letterboxd (still at the beta-testing stage) purports to offer an alternative to IMDb and the many shortcomings it’s developed over the years due to… well, non-development on its part.

Letterboxd have taken the concept of the movie database and blended in successful elements of social media. The result is promising, and “very pretty” in the words of my sister.

Appstorm offer a straightforward and informative overview of the website, so here are just some comments and observations of my own.

By no means am I tech geek. I’m computer literate enough that I can tell the main interface is user-friendly and immediately draws attention to the possibilities generated by the website’s contents. However delving a bit deeper into said contents makes you realise that certain basic functions are a bit difficult to locate. The easiest way to get an overview of the site is to have a look round your own profile and navigate your way from there.

The primary interest, however, being to explore film rather than just build up another online profile, you’ll quickly want to make your way towards the “Films” tab and explore what other users have recently watched or reviewed. You may spot the poster image of a film you’d like to review yourself, or you may decide to search for specific films.

If you’re tempted, as I was on first arrival, to draw a list of every single film you’ve ever seen as remembered off the top of your head – and this can be a challenge when they run in the hundreds – there’s an option to “make this list private” until you’ve tidied up a bit and are ready to share with other users.

I couldn’t find a few of the more obscure films I searched for, particularly those falling under the bracket of world cinema; but Letterboxd plans on merging with IMDb and Delicious Library, allowing users to import films and associated information.

One fantastic aspect to the site which is really facilitated and put forward by its concept is discovering films recommended by people whom you know share the same taste due to common likes and ratings. One very easy way to do this is by exploring their themed lists – and there are plenty of creatively-devised ones to choose from:

Of the other predominant features of the site, the reviews I’ve read so far have been a treat. Popular ones include the one-liner about M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 The Happening:

“Mark Wahlberg gets out acted by a plant.”

If this sort of tongue in cheek remark is not to your taste (and if like me you happen to think there is lot more to Mr Shyamalan’s films than meets the general public’s eye), there are plenty of thoughtful and wordy reviews from Werner Herzog and Al Pacino fans alike.

If nothing else, the ridiculous amount of time I’ve devoted to the website over the past few days should bear testimony to its potential and what it has to offer.

And speaking of offer, I’ve got 3 beta invitations to hand out so leave a comment below if you would like to snatch one up for yourself. First come first serve.