Shorts #25

Today’s shorts: Ringu (1998), Mad About Men (1954), I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok (2006), Mr. And Mrs. (2012), Cairo Station (1958), Fantastic Planet (1973), Seven Pounds (2008), Tanu Weds Manu (2011)

Having seen Ring a handful of times now, and each time having liked it more, I have to say that this is a brilliant movie.

Far from the basic horror that this is made out to be, Ring is a film about a family breaking down, a woman being abandoned, and the social impact of this which causes much darkness to arise from a pitch place. The couple of this narrative attempt to confront this darkness that is propagating across their familial network, but ultimately fail. Not are they unable to reconcile with one another and face their failure as a family, but the woman decides to destroy the man, using his own hamartia against him.

There is then a cycle of betrayal and retaliation embedded into this film that is catalysed by the snake and the abyss within it not being faced, or at least, being faced, only to allow the avoid to stare back and consume.

A 50s British comedy and a very dodgy morality tale, Mad About Men is a fantasy about a jaded fiancée who, on holiday, finds her identical mermaid cousin (a metaphor for a darker, more sexual female persona) in the bottom of her summer house, and decides to swap positions with her. What ensues is a plethora of screwball hijinks surrounding the mermaid liberating herself from her dumb-as-nails fiancé whilst leading another other dumb-as-nails husband on a wild goose chase.

As could be expected, a shadowy alpha-male, the richest man in town who walks among the peasants as a humble fisherman, emerges and catches the mermaid’s attention. With the mermaid making it her goal to set her ‘cousin’ up for a choice between new potential love interests, this movie is a comedic and hyperbolic depiction of female liberation and empowerment. But, whilst this may be a picture that would resonate with others, it is unfortunate that this has no backbone and simply relies on weak comedy.

Not particularly fun or engaging, just transparent and dumb, Mad About Men is not worth a watch in my view.

A solid film, one that takes some time to settle into because of the pacing, and one that feels, aesthetically, contrived and artificial (which makes sense in certain respects), but ultimately brings its many parts into a cohesive and expressive whole. In such, I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Ok is a film about the modern industrialised age and its effects on the human psyche when its mechanicism alone is left to nurture a young mind without a solid existential guide. Intertwining romance into this Modern Times-esque narrative, this film chronicles the re-structuring of lives around new-found community and understanding that allows a couple to navigate through anxiety, anarchism and nihilism.

All in all, a film about young adults who are seeking a pathway in life, I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok is a surrealistically reductionist and literal narrative with much to say about the individual in the industrialised world. Worth the watch.

Though simple and imperfect, I found Mr. And Mrs. to be an irrationally phenomenal movie. But, above all else, Mr. And Mrs. has heart and character; it is a movie that exudes genuity and has clear, honourable intentions.

The imperfections of this film concern some technical details (there are many camera bumps and a few focus bumbles) as well as the sometimes shaky script, music and performances. However, in projecting a high-intensity familial drama in an incredibly straightforward and literal manner, Mr. And Mrs. lays its subtext bare and directly comments on society, attempting to provide a cautionary tale and a blueprint for handling hard times in a marriage; an ever-changing relationship that needs care and attention. Free from postmodern cynicism and irony, and rife with vitality, this film is a breath of, not fresh, but pure, air.

Cairo Station, or, The Iron Gate, is tremendous film that follows a crippled man who is constantly rejected by the woman he has fallen for.

With incredible cinematic language, this is then a very expressive projection of the Pandora’s Box myth. In such, this story is about chaos being naively, or inadvertently, released onto the world. And the only way to stop this chaos is with a form of destruction or deception that, once the box is closed again, leaves hope sealed within.

There is then no real blame in this story. There is provocation and there is tragedy; monsters emerge from the dark. This fundamental failed romance put in parallel with the socio-political elements of this film then produces a complex commentary on change and how Pandora’s Box, once opened, may have to be opened many times over so that the monsters aren’t all that emerge from the darkness.

A brilliant animated sci-fi fantasy movie that follows the rise of a civilisation from oppression and subjugation under a greater species, through an intellectual awakening and into technological evolution then, finally, peace. In such, this largely follows the age-old story of the rise, tribulations and reign of the great king that we’re still telling to this day – just look to the Planet of the Apes Trilogy.

This isn’t a perfect movie, however. The animation can be very stiff at times and there are pacing issues. But, the surreal aesthetics and the creative world building lend so much to this narrative so that it is nonetheless highly engaging – especially in the third act. For its individuality and audaciousness, it is clear why this is considered on of the all-time-great animated films. Certainly worth the watch.

A genuinely great movie that, somehow, has flown under my radar for a long time – and seemingly many others’, too.

An amalgamation of the Robin Hood myth, the sacrifice of Christ story and the archetypal redemption narrative put into a modern setting with genuine romance, Seven Pounds is something close to a masterpiece. There are, however, elements of this that feel a little too genre-like, meaning that this film is often very clearly trying to make you cry tears of melancholic joy (and this may work for some). For this, there is a certain, yet very, very minimal, contrivance about this story that keeps it mere inches from mastery. With a modified sound track and about 5-10 minutes cut from its run time, I think this would be a perfect movie.

A highly under-rated, hyper-criticised and overlooked film, Seven Pounds is, without a doubt, something to check out.

A pretty horrible romance, one that confusingly attempts to draw parallels between itself and Hindu mythology, which mistakes love for attraction, stupidity for naivety, patience for fear, guilt for compassion and hope for weakness. This is the troubling consequence of overly melodramatic romances; one partner is too weak and needs to grow a spine and the other is a malicious fool who does not deserve them. Tropes and lazy writing, however, insist that all that is clearly wrong with characters can be fixed by one magical realisation or revelatory stand – which is in fact true to a certain extent, but if characters are as faulted as they are in this movie, mere realisation is not going to cut it; its going to take action and significant change over time from both partners.

All in all, sometimes letting the nice guy finish last is the merciful thing to, especially if he’s running the wrong race. Twisting fantasies that scream malice and failure into romance that apparently exudes ‘truth’ and what is ‘right’ is a truly terrible blunder.

P.S. The poster and tagline say it all. The obnoxious woman drags the weak moron, and below: “Celebrate a perfect mismatch”. What on Earth are they trying to sell with this?

 

 

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Laputa: Castle In The Sky – Atlantis Calls

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No Country For Old Men – Disavowal

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