Talking Movies

April 25, 2021

Miscellaneous Movie Musings: Part XXXIX

What a difference a director makes

So after many years of humming and hawing I finally got round to watching The American Friend, which was a revelation. Being bored senseless by Wings of Desire had put me off going near it, given that I had found the 2003 movie Ripley’s Game a trite bore and it was based on the same novel. Well, everything Bret Easton Ellis says about mood and atmosphere being everything in cinema is proved right with a vengeance in this instance of compare and contrast. John Malkovich may be more in line with Ripley the would be sophisticate, but Dennis Hopper is a better performance focusing on the sheer instability of Ripley’s own sense of self. And Wenders goes to town with Hitchcockian flourishes, the suspense of the train murder, the exaggerated camera movements as Bruno Ganz escapes his first crime in the Metro, the overpowering sinister score. And that’s before the amped up ambient sound design accompanying the extremely unflattering industrial landscapes of Hamburg; a stark contrast to the novel and the later film’s lush Southern European settings.

Spike Lee approves this Oscars

Steven Soderbergh may be in charge of the ceremony but the acting nominations (and arguably the directing nods as a ripple effect) are all the product of Spike Lee’s freakout five years ago. Except for the third godfather at the table: Harvey Weinstein. As has become customary under his baneful influence the Oscars are ostentatiously preoccupied with unpopular films this year. I’ve written about this before, but this year is an intriguing proposition. If the likes of the Guardian have been right in their pronouncements over the last five years then the fact that white actors have been shunted to the side so extravagantly this year should result in a ratings bonanza. Because the problem was ‘a lack of diversity’ making the Oscars ‘increasingly irrelevant’. If you think that the problem was that nobody in America had seen, or in all too many cases would ever want to see, the films nominated then the ratings tonight should be as low as last year or even lower owing to the fact that this year’s nominated movies are even more niche than usual. Intriguingly the Guardian seems to be hedging its bets by running a piece a few weeks ago about producers fretting that Americans would not watch the ceremony…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 8:50 pm

Any Other Business: Part LXVII

A Rock and a Starless Place

It struck me early on that Castle Rock season 2 was considerably less star-powered than Castle Rock season 1. I was never sure why season 1 had been so garlanded with praise when, like so much prestige TV, it promised oodles more than it had any capability to deliver. Season 2 showcased some astonishing drone camerawork, but missed a priceless early opportunity for one of the funniest twists ever, and was more of a slog than its predecessor simply because it was so unlikely from previous experience to actually reach any payoff. Lizzy Caplan was damn good as the young Kathy Bates in season 2, but she was surrounded by a lackof famous faces compared to the cult heroes everywhere in season 1. Which poses the question, allied with the cancellation of the show for poor ratings, have both actors and audiences grown wary and weary of the Bad Robot approach to storytelling? Viz. there is no story but you must wait to the end to discover it was all incident without purpose.

The Greatest Theme Tune You’ve Never Heard

As Hans Zimmer unveiled his mobile phone ringtone for your consideration just as I came to the end of Sky Arts’ re-run of CNN’s documentary series The Eighties it occurred to me that Blake Neely’s rousing theme tune for that series (and indeed its predecessors and successors) would be a great ringtone. Nobody else would recognise it, but it would be a great ringtone. It might not be that effective though because in my conception, the whole theme would play the longer you let the phone ring, rather than simply an excerpt repeating itself. And so frustrated friends would yell at me as I rang them back, “Did you just let it ring out to hear that damn theme tune in full – again?!”

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