Talking Movies

September 15, 2021

Any Other Business: Part LXX

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Dolt Who Shouts Bravo

Before the pandemic ruined everything I taped a performance of Debussy’s La Mer from the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. And at the end, before the orchestra had had a chance to relax, before the music had had a chance to die away, and before the audience had had a chance to register its deep appreciation, some idiot bellowed BRA-VO! This really got my goat at the time. And it got Petroc Trelawny’s goat a few weeks ago when the dolt who shouts bravo appeared again at the Proms. I could have done without that BRA-VO!, muttered the good Trelawny, as, once again, the last notes of music were not given a chance to settle and fade away before this jack in a box was out of his seat shouting BRA-VO! I’ve been trying to parse what it is that so irks me about this fool, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because his shout has nothing to do with the orchestra and everything to do with him. Sitting in a mass of people he cannot bear the thought of being lost in the thunder of group applause, he must assert his individuality by gazumping the audience, the music, and common decency by shouting before the time is right. He would no doubt dispute this, saying that he is so moved by the music that he simply must jump up and register his individual approval before everybody else in a packed Royal Albert Hall. I would dispute this disputation as bosh.

To be a party man is to be morally compromised

Fine Gael are currently spitting blood at why the Zappone saga just will not end. The answer is simple, but eludes them because it is so very simple. The saga will not end until someone has been punished for wrongdoing. But that would be to admit that there was wrongdoing, and that would be to admit that someone in Fine Gael has done wrong, which is not possible because then they would not be a member of Fine Gael but of another political party. And so on runs the logic of each party’s think-in at this time of year. To be a party man is to be morally compromised. I never engaged with being a football fan because I found exactly this kind of blind loyalty disgusting. A player from a rival team barely brushes one of your players, and there are cries of REF SEND HIM OFF! A player from your team breaks the leg of a rival player, and there are mutters of No, that was a fair tackle, shouldn’t be a red card, nothing deliberate in it, I didn’t see any foul. If you are not affiliated with either side you look at this carry-on and see utter brazen mind-blowing hypocrisy. And that is what drives ordinary people mad about politics: the endless defence of the indefensible. The unquestioning acceptance of orders from the party that black is white on Monday and black is black on Friday if that’s what the party thinks is now needed to gain or retain power. In its own way it’s not just a question of being morally compromised, it’s a return to a pre-Socratic way of thinking. I owe generosity and decency to my clique, to everyone else the devil take the hindmost. It is somewhat depressing to have arrived at this present moment in history and find the party political system has reversed the axial moment in history. Coveney is bleating about the perception of lobbying and the perception he lied, because she lobbied and he lied. Simon Harris is leaking like a sieve, as is Catherine Martin, but they are in the ha’penny place to Leo the Leak, who has now been caught out three times during the pandemic doing things that he or his flunkies have told everyone else not to do. One feels Harold Macmillan would have fired Coveney, Varadkar, Harris and C Martin by now, but Michael Martin apparently feels unable to do so because it would spark an election. Well, given that Varadkar scraped in on the 5th count in the last election that’s something of a suicide pact, so have at it. If someone isn’t fired for this,  this scandal won’t leave the newscycle.

January 13, 2016

Top 10 Films of 2015

Steve-Jobs

(10) Steve Jobs

The combination of Michael Fassbender, Aaron Sorkin, and Danny Boyle produced a far warmer movie than Sorkin’s previous tech biopic The Social Network. Sorkin’s theatrical script was tense, hilarious, meta-textual, and heart-warming as if each iteration of the same confrontations pushed Jobs closer to doing the right thing, as Daniel Pemberton’s rousing score became less electronic and more orchestral, while Boyle’s changing film formats emphasised the passage of time and  thereby generated unexpected pathos.

mission-impossible_2484

(9) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Since JJ Abrams became Tom Cruise’s producing co-pilot this vanity franchise has suddenly become great fun. This doesn’t equal the blast that was Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol, but writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s combined great comedy and stunts, with a truly mysterious femme fatale, and some well staged action sequences; the highlight being assassins’ night out at the Viennese opera, riffing shamelessly and gloriously on Alfred Hitchcock’s twice-told Royal Albert Hall sequence.

Untitled-9.0

(8) The Martian

Director Ridley Scott may have demurred at this being a Golden Globe ‘comedy’ but Drew Goddard should write all Scott’s future movies on the basis of this screenplay chock-full of great jokes. You know you’re looking at an unprecedented ensemble of scene-stealers when Kristen Wiig ends up straight man to the Fassbendering all around her, and this valorisation of can-do science arguably realised Tomorrowland’s stated intention of restoring technological optimism to the popular imagination.

sicario_image_2

(7) Sicario

Denis Villeneuve once again directed a thriller so spare, savage, and elemental that, like Incendies, it invited comparison with Greek tragedy. Amidst Roger Deakins’ stunning aerial photography and Johann Johannsson’s unnerving score Emily Blunt’s steely FBI heroine, in her conflict with Benicio Del Toro’s Alejandro, became a veritable Creon to his Antigone: for her devotion to upholding the law is the right thing, where Alejandro believes in breaking the law to do the right thing.

jason_books_sm

 

(6) Listen Up Philip

Jason Schwartzman was on top form as an obnoxiously solipsistic novelist who retreated to the place in the country of new mentor Jonathan Pryce, and alienated his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss), his mentor’s daughter (Krysten Ritter), his students, and, well, just about everybody else. This was a tour-de-force by writer/director Alex Ross Perry who threw in a wonderfully gloomy jazz score, a narrator, and alternating perspectives to create an unashamedly literary, unhappy, ‘unrelatable’ story.

Lola-Kirke-Greta-Gerwig-in-Mistress-America

(5) Mistress America

Expectations were high after Frances Ha, and Baumbach and Gerwig’s follow-up did not disappoint. Their script provided compelling characters, with great jokes and screwball set-ups, as well as a literary sense of melancholy. The story of Brooke and Tracy is one of the best observer/hero films I’ve seen lately; from Tracy’s loneliness at college, to her meeting with the whirlwind of energy that is Brooke, to her co-option into Brooke’s restaurant dream, and all the fall-out from Tracy’s attempts to have her cake and eat it; sharply observed, but with great sympathy.

maxresdefault

(4) Carol

The Brief Encounter set-up of the extended flashback to explain the true nature of what superficially appeared to be casual meeting was played out with immense delicacy by stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Maray in a feast of glances and little gestures under the subtle direction of Todd Haynes. Carter Burwell’s score added the emotion forced to go unspoken in Phyllis Nagy’s sleek adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical novel which mixed romance with coming-of-age story as Mara’s shopgirl followed her artistic path and so moved from ingénue to the equal of Blanchett’s socialite.

EdenMiaHansenLoveFelixDeGivry

 

(3) Eden

Mia Hansen-Love followed-up Goodbye First Love with another exploration of 20 years in a character’s life. Paul (Felix de Givry) was the guy standing just next to Daft Punk in the 1993 photo of Parisian house music enthusiasts, and the story of his rise as a DJ wasn’t just about the music. We met the women in his life, including Pauline Etienne’s Louise and Greta Gerwig’s American writer Julia, and the male friends who came and went. Eden was always engaging, hilarious, tender, poignant, and rousing; in short it felt like a life.

furious-7-box-office-gross

 

(2) Furious 7

Paul Walker bowed out with a gloriously nonsensical romp which made pigswill of the laws of physics because Vin Diesel, The Rock and The State said so. This franchise under the direction of Justin Lin, and now James Wan, has broken free of any link to humdrum reality to become distilled cinematic joy. And it’s so much fun they can even break rules, like not killing the mentor, yet still set themselves up for an awesome finale. CC: Whedon & Abrams, there are other ways to motivate characters and raise the stakes…

birdman

(1) Birdman

Michael Keaton made a spectacular leading man comeback in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s meta-riff on Keaton being overshadowed by his Bat-past. Keaton was hilarious and affecting by turns, and in support Edward Norton shone in a play on his persona: preening self-regard with notes of self-loathing. Emmanuel Lubezski’s camera-work was spectacularly fluid in maintaining the illusion of a single take, but the time-lapses made you suspect it was a cinematic conceit designed to conceal the theatrical nature of essentially four long-takes. Indeed the characters were highly conscious that theatre was the only medium for a Carver adaptation; the days of Short Cuts are gone. Birdman was interesting, funny, and experimental; and to consistently pull off all three of those at the same time was enough to overcome any quibbles.

Blog at WordPress.com.