Today’s Shorts: Young Frankenstein (1974), Goecha La: In Search Of The Holy Kangchenjunga With George Thengummoottil (2011), The Killers (1956), The Jungle Book (1967), The Girl On The Train (2016), The Accountant (2016), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Quite possibly the best spoof movie ever made – though, the competition out there isn’t too tough – Young Frankenstein captures one of the greatest meetings between Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.
With a perfect combination of insanity and satire, Young Frankenstein is giddy fun and a great poke at the plethora of Frankenstein movies as well as classical horrors in general. If I were to criticise this movie, which I could only do half-heartedly, I’d say its critique and revision of the classical films isn’t that clever, only slightly witty. With that said, the performances and characters are all pretty great, but my favourite aspect of this movie is undoubtedly the raunchy screwball comedy elements which confine the absurdity of this narrative in the best way possible, allowing it to be over-the-top without coming off as plain stupid.
All in all, a great comedy that gets better every time I see it.
A pretty brilliant ‘home video’ film, Goecha La documents a man’s journey into the Himalayas whilst he exposits numerous facts about the region and culture.
Beyond being well shot (though with a few minor editing issues), this is a short documentary that’s really worth watching for the fact that it can be classed as a ‘home video’ film – which is a genre or form of cinema that, despite never really being given a spotlight, has of course become ever more relevant in the past decade or so with the internet and sites like YouTube.
So, embracing its simplicity and sometimes rough aesthetic, Goecha La is a really pleasant film that provides great incite into a tiny corner of the world with a nice personal touch given by the director.
An incite into a master’s earliest works, The Killers is Andrei Tarkovsky’s first film that he made as a student attending VGIK. It is an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story of the same name and is centred on a bar that two gangsters enter with the intention of assassinating a boxer.
Co-written and co-directed by Tarkovsky, you could argue that this isn’t really his film, however, he did propose this idea and he did direct the majority of the film (2 of the 3 scenes). So, assessing this as a film of his, it is little more than an opening act that only begins to imply a more complex and compelling narrative of a competently directed and written film – nothing that is transcendent or particularly indicative of what Tarkovsky would go on to do in his later features.
This will be a good watch for anyone interested in the career of Tarkovsky – maybe of Hemingway adaptations too – but little more than just that.
Just like all the best Disney films, you can see it a million times, yet it will still hold up and somehow will not be torture – in fact, it’ll be quite the opposite.
What really struck me on this re-watch was the intricate manner in which music was stitched into almost every moment of the narrative, emphasising movements, emotions and keeping track of tone. Whilst a consistent score, not matter how good, will reduce the quality of a film for some, I think animated films like The Jungle Book act as a strong rebuttal to someone arguing for pure cinematics and an emphasis on the image alone.
All in all, a classic that certainly deserves all the praise it gets and maybe one to re-watch with an ear to the score.
The Girl On The Train is a pretty excellent film. Formally brilliant in many respects with great performances, though with some shaky characterisation of peripheral characters, this is ultimately a really strong thriller.
Somewhat reminiscent of Gone Girl and Elle, the most compelling aspect of this film is certainly the manner in which it explores the phenomena of people taking all that is broken within them and projecting it on to the world. This of course has innumerable consequences, but one of the most devastating would be meeting someone else just as, or more so, broken that you. Fire feeds fire, fire consumes fire and before you know it, there is nothing but destruction. The only hope for someone who stumbles into this situation is that they emerge from the ashes a better person, their broken internal dead wood shed.
This is a pretty complex and powerfully articulated idea that, unfortunately, is held back by the genre elements of this film. In such, the form of the film and structure of the script are too focused on making this is a psychological thriller rather than a narrative that solely serves this greater idea. If The Girl On The Train had managed this, I wouldn’t be saying it is reminiscent of Gone Girl or Elle, rather, something like Persona. The fact that we didn’t get this is somewhat disappointing, but this is a good film nonetheless.
The Accountant is a strong movie with quite a few layers – probably too many. Not only does it try to grapple themes of mental disorders, but also romance, brotherhood, childhood, morality and justice – all with, as many have pointed out, Batman dressed up as Jason Bourne. Individually, The Accountant manages each of these themes somewhat well, but never delves too deeply into them, nor does it bring them together into a cohesive and profound whole.
What really depreciates this film is that this is all it really has going for it. In such, the only elements of real worth are the mentioned themes as well as Affleck’s character’s relationship the one played by Kendrick; the thriller genre attributes are a dud, the direction is ok, the action scenes are underwhelming and the narrative isn’t very entertaining.
Looked at from a distance, I can appreciate what The Accountant attempts to confront, but I will probably never be seeing this movie again.
I hate to say it, and I’m shocked that I have to, but, Keanu Reeves was the worst part of this movie. Though we can all appreciate the immense amount of work and effort that must have gone into this movie on his behalf, it’s clear that Reeves simply isn’t Bruce Lee. In other words, you can see that he’s an actor playing John Wick – especially in the action scenes–which is of course a huge let-down. And added to his shaky action performances is a horrific character performance. The lines he has to say throughout this movie are terrible on paper…. but so much worse as he delivers them.
That said though, you can have quite a bit of fun with this movie. My favourite aspect was the ludicrous lengths it took the ‘guy code’ of hitmen with all their rules and regulations. A lot more can be said on this topic, but John Wick 2 is simply a somewhat well executed, dumb, fun movie.
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