End Of The Week Shorts #20

Today’s shorts: Forrest Gump (1994), Dead Ringers (1988), Countess Dracula (1971), A Simple Life (2011), Audition (1999), Deathstalker (1983), Cinderella (1950), Willow (1988),┬áLike Stars On Earth (2007), Bill Burr: Let It Go (2010), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

The thing I’ve always loved about Forrest Gump is its use of the naive and bumbling hero. This is an archetype just about as old as cinema that is usually defined by the comic, a Keaton, a Chaplin, who accidentally falls in love and/or saves the day. Some of the greatest examples of this would then be The Great Dictator or Sherlock Jr.

Forrest Gump takes this very old archetype and, instead of pulling from him comedy or a cute attempt towards endearment, there is extracted genuine emotion, an idea of true love and true loyalty, but also real wisdom. As oxymoronic or contradictory as this may seem, it is irrefutable that Forrest Gump works as a tale of a haphazard hero, one who exudes truth as a his only weapon and only self-defence.

This is a complex and highly intriguing psychological film with many elements of horror embedded into it. Dead Ringers follows two identical twins who become gynaecologists, but have two core inner conflicts concerning, 1) their connection to one another, and, 2) their perception of the female as a life-creating entity. These two conflicts combine and collide over the course of the narrative as the two main characters, as played quite impressively by Jeremy Irons, seemingly confront both their being–their existence–as the crux of their incredibly challenging relationship – one predicated on the two sharing too much (everything from research to women).

Because these two figures have such a complex relationship involving one another’s virtues making up for the other’s faults and downfalls, they become like two clasped hands slowly being torn apart. To watch this almost surgically constructed event unfold over the course of this narrative is very intriguing, and so I certainly wouldn’t shy away from recommending this to anyone interested.

A spectacular movie, and certainly the most complex and intriguing vampire film I’ve ever seen.

Countess Dracula is a Hammer Horror that has very little to do with Dracula at all. It instead follows an old window caught in a vast spiral of deceit, vanity, shame and self-destruction, one who embodies sexuality as a manipulative tool and as a source of meaning whilst bathing in the blood of virgins. Stringing along with her numerous foolish men whose guiding compass is stuck below their belt, this narrative is then a stark, sometimes graphic, sometimes sensual commentary on sexual and social promiscuity.

The only faults you could find with this film would be technical: the sound design goes a little awry at times and some sets have a bit too much ‘spring’ to them (don’t watch the feet of the actors or you’ll find yourself too distracted by this). Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this movie and would have to recommend it to any horror fans.

A Simple Life is a subdued and beautiful film about ageing, but more so autonomy and life a cycle of caring and dependence. In such, as it follows a maid who has served a family for over 60 years into her final days, the boy she has looked his whole life, who is an adult now, discovers that it is now his turn to care for her – but without infantilizing her.

Without drama and without any huge revelations, A Simple Life is an affecting, leisurely poem that contemplates the humbleness of life as it approaches its end. And so it is with seeming effortlessness that this narrative encompasses itself, articulating all that could be said about its themes perfectly before driving deep into your psyche to find a comfortable place and nestle there. Surely not something I will be forgetting soon, A Simple Life is an exceptional picture.

I’m not too sure how I feel about Audition. Formally, it is an intriguing play with time and reality through flashbacks and dreams that merge into what we are to assume is the real world. Story-wise, this is a horror that quite clearly serves as a projection of a self-proclaimed romantic’s fears concerning re-marriage, moreover, it is a challenge to his concepts of coincidence. There is embedded into this further complexities with parent-child and male-female conflicts surfacing in a rather grizzly manner. But, there isn’t much to really immerse yourself in with this narrative; it isn’t paced very well and the characters aren’t too interesting.

So, though there are obvious sparks of greatness in Audition, I felt disconnected from it throughout. I could see how others would really get into this, but I simple struggled to.

The goddamn poster got me.

At its lowest points Deathstalker seems like a bunch of idiots in a forest with too much money decided to make a movie. At its highest points, this is a very cheap, somewhat amusing, Conan: The Barbarian (which came out the year before this).

Whilst the direction and cinematography are surprisingly competent, the acting, dialogue and character-writing throughout this film are awful. I think everyone involved knew this to be the case as there’s a plethora of bulging muscles, tits and ass to distract you from how bad this movie is – moreover, a lot of terribly staged action and gore. Unfortunately, to anyone above 13, this won’t work that well.

I can see an attempt towards building a world with a gripping mythos and also some semblance of subtext (which I wasn’t paying attention to) in Deathstalker, but, I think the only reason people would watch this nowadays is to laugh at it. That said, how did this get three sequels?

A perfect movie, one that has always been one of my absolute favourites, Cinderella is probably the greatest fairy tale put to film.

Understanding that most fairy tales, Cinderella in particularly, use archetypes and psychological projections (consider the use of animals that represent people in this narrative), a tension between reality and perception becomes evident. This phenomena is often labelled “romanticism”, but, whatever you may call it, Cinderella manages the implications of both inner and outer realities perfectly, bringing to life one of the purest stories about hope and dreams. By utilising the psychological defiance and maturation of its protagonist, this film then makes a case for “and they lived happily ever after” as a realistic statement; if you grow into the highest ideal version of yourself, it would not be inconceivable that you could manifest for yourself a “happily ever after”.

Whilst there is so much more to be said in respects to how these ideas are actually presented in the narrative, this is what makes Cinderella such a brilliant movie beyond all of its cinematic magic that most will recognise as children.

Quite starkly a re-imagining of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, Willow, whilst not completely original, is a wondrous movie and one of the very few epic fantasy movies that actually work. With its ties to Lord Of The Rings comes the classical tale of an archetypal good, both feminine and masculine, doing battle with evil whilst virtue from the most unlikely of places guides the way for the innocent. This is captured brilliantly by the intelligent script and brought to life with near-perfection through the acting, direction, cinematography and general art design. Kilmer and Davis are in particularly good as a trade-off Aragorn and Frodo.

The only faults in this movie are minute and technical; there are a few special effects shots and bits of ADR that don’t hold up. Beyond this, Willow, in my books, whilst not as iconic, sits up there with Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings as an almost flawless epic of rare proportions.

Whilst a little sentimental and over-idealistic in parts, also a bit bloated, Taare Zameen Par, or, Like Stars On Earth, is a movie I can’t really fault.

In short, a celebration of compassion and humanity and an understanding gesture towards the problem-child, Like Stars On Earth is as up-lifting as it is immersive. Rife with catchy and affecting songs as well as playful direction and editing in the montage sequences, each chapter of this narrative transitions further into the depths of misunderstanding and isolation before emerging with a heartfelt call for the recognition of the uniqueness in all children. Though this can be seen coming from quite some distance, the script layers and plays its emotions with great dexterity, pulling you into its story without any refrain.

All in all, a brilliant movie that, once its starts, has you in its grips until the very end. Highly recommended.

By now I basically know most of these jokes by heart – and they still work wonders.

I think this has to be Burr’s best special. It captures everything that makes his on-stage persona so purely hilarious. As the title ironically implies, Burr is like a coil slowly being compressed by the subtle nuisances and common annoyances in the world, waiting to explode, unable to let much go at all. His comedy is then just as much catharsis as it is an average man’s social commentary on the world around him. Overflowing with paranoia, anger, suppression and, most of all, genuity, Let It Go is ultimately such a precious gem of comedy because it is seemingly a self-served therapy session, Burr the precisely articulate psychiatrist and the frothing-at-the-mouth patient all at once.

Truly one of the greatest comedy hours ever put together and performed, Let It Go is the work of a self-effacing master.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is one of the greatest screwball comedies ever made that is not only quick, subtle and witty, but one of the most heated and sensual films ever to be rated U (G).

A deconstruction of both classical rom-coms and marriage, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, whilst a tad nihilistic and immoral, and overtly materialistic, means to reveal the crux of all relationships to be both attraction and security. Without pretence and without pulling many punches, this concept is put to screen perfectly with excellent performances by Monroe and Russel and brought to life with some brilliant musical numbers.

Simply one of those movies I can’t stop grinning at from start to finish, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is flawless fun.



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