TTSS

 

when i first read tomas alfredson was set to direct TTSP, i was already conjuring up images of a moody quiet thriller punctuated with bursts of controlled violence.  if you haven't seen let the right one in then do so immediately. in my mind it is possibly the most perfect on screen realization of the modern vampire.  in TTSP he employs the same sort of tight dark control over his subject matter. alfredson's monochromatic london has a similar feel to his suburban sweden, but it really works. there is a gritty dirty quality.  an inner world created in a public space between those that share a secret and those who do not.   the use of color really struck me as well.  despite such an earthy somber palette, his characters both embody their surroundings and stand apart from them.  encased within an overarching sense of moral ambiguity, you get the sense that as long as they exist in an office, these bureaucratic spies would be at home anywhere in the world.  and of course- gary oldman is a total bad ass in glasses.

the secret

 

of the five animated features nominated for academy awards last year, the only one i never got around to seeing was the secet of the kells. i don't think i even had a chance as it never quite went into wide release. personally i was rooting for fantstic mr. fox. and naturally up won. no shocker there. but having finally gotten around to watching kells, i'm completely enamored. it's really an exquisite film from beginning to end. it has the feel of a hand crafted film coupled with scope and depth and environments that are breathtaking.

the artwork ranges from graphic [action sequences in particular] to painterly, and the transition between the two seems perfectly natural. the frame is often represented as a triptych, possibly referencing the european tradition of christian art while framing the action in a way that leads the eye right to it. characters move freely in and out of these tripled spaces. and while the edges of the frames are often decoratively adorned, the image does not feel static. i think what works for me so well in this film is not just that it is a unique film with a distinct vision, but that it is deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of it's origin. the film was made in ireland- both the story and the form reflect this in a way that is fresh and authentic. if you haven't seen it, please do. you will will be inspired by how experimental and beautiful animation can [still] be.

 

stills from the secret of the kells directed by tomm moore, 2009

the red shoes

 

i've been a fan of michael powell's classically disturbing peeping tom since i first saw it many years ago. to me, the 60s were a real high point in horror film. and the fact that 1960 saw the release of both peeping tom in britain and then psycho here in the states surely was not a coincidence. both are incredibly psychological films dealing with the terrifying depths of subjectivity that lie within a mad man's mind.

so...i have been wanting to getter a better sense of michael powell's films. it turns out that from a  genre point of view, peeping tom was a bit of an anomaly and is perhaps the film that may even have destroyed powell's career due to it's controversial nature. however, similar themes can still be found in red shoes.

based on the hans christian anderson fairy tale, the film is a series of nested narratives as plays are performed within the film. and though not a horror film, there is a madman at the heart of this story. as well as love, hatred, subjectivity, and obsession.  the imagery is rich and beautiful, with one of the best early exploitations of technicolor. martin scorsese considers this one of his early favorites. fans of ballet and dance will definitely appreciate the fact that the film employs real dancers who act rather than vice versa. the costumes, design and music are all rich and evoke the passion and intensity of the film.

 

stills from michael powell's the red shoes, 1960

moon

 

with it's graphic title sequence and restrained special effects, moon is a cerebral sci-fi film in the vein of 2001: a space odyssey and solaris. the sparse minimal desaturated palette seems based in part on a desire to realize space realisticly and also perhaps to make space itself take a backseat to the drama unfolding. this stylistic reference to 2001 goes further with the introduction of the semi sentient computer named GERTY whose initial HAL-like quality evokes a very unsettling feeling. eventually this works against expectations as not only does GERTY emerge as sympathetic sort of character, but the initial existentialist tone of the film gives way to a tight character study of a man confronting the most vulnerable parts of himself.

moon is an incredibly sweet and melancholy film. it's beautiful and surprising and stays with you.

 

 

stills from moon directed by duncan jones, 2009