Eraserhead – An Experimental Masterpiece

In 1977, David Lynch was releasing his first movie; Eraserhead. A door to a quirky, experimental, and very manual work, but also a door to a whole new world, of little dialogue, and inexplicable behavior and happenings. Comparing to the Hollywood production, Lynch was offering the premises of independent, not commercial movies, and taking the risk to be considered as a marginal character, stepping out of big american productions. Thus, something really important, is shown in the film, Lynch is capturing, every bit and aspects of the industrial America, with noisy, smoking machines, mass production or railroads. Filmed in black and white, it points out the dark, of this industrial era.

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The director is, before being a filmmaker, a painter and a sculptor, joining this part of his skills to its first filmed production. Combining those, he created Eraserhead, where his weird characters could live under their own specific rules, and darknesses.
Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is just a regular guy, with a fancy haircut, great tastes in music, who happened to have issues with his sexuality. Not that he is not confident or anything, but he happened to possess harmful spermatozoids.
He is not taking any real initiatives, but seems more to be passive, therefore, we learn that he has a girlfriend, Mary (Charlotte Stewart) , even though the girl next door, is hitting on him.

Mary invited him over diner one night, and Henry finally has to meet her family, which isn’t ordinary at all. This night, he learnt he was a father.
The thing is, the baby he had with her, is way too premature, and looks like a living spermatozoid, and not a human at all, at least physically speaking, but morally, he acts more human than every other characters, having basic needs, and wants. Lynch did a pretty good job in modeling its creature, and make it more real than ever, a sort of lynchian E.T.. This infant, is the product of a uncontrolled, and cursed sexual arousal, explained by a animated feature in the beginning of the film.  Even when Henry got the news, by Mary’s mother, this last one, was practically sexually harassing him, and he didn’t even pushed her away. He is a victim of his sexuality, and passiveness.

He has dreams, hallucinations, where his spermatozoids invade Mary’s body, or when he looked at his radiator and travel into some theater, where a women is dancing, with abnormal cheeks, crushing his sperm as they are dropping from the ceiling. Something odd is happening, a fear of castration.

Eraserhead, is a mysterious masterpiece of cinematographic work. Close to what he did in his short The Grandmother, David Lynch depicted his private, and odd world, when people aren’t really acting like normal human beings, but more like if, the director, was modeling what would happen if we acted like we thought, like our ideas were organized, and popping into our mind. Mixing, dream, reality, but also desires. Picking one theme, he then shaped what could happen starting from that. Very metaphorical, and a lot based on details and decor, Eraserhead, is actually a premise, of Lynch’s work, which will keep the same basis, and evolve into the different spheres of consciousness and subconsciousness, mastered by the filmmaker. He directed this movie, as if he painted a tableau, you can look at it over and over you will still observe some details you haven’t notice.

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The World’s End – WTF

Usually when you had a tough week, you’d like a drink, or maybe like me, watching people drink. Indeed, I decided to watch The World’s End, of which I had a poster hanging on my wall before seeing it (weird). To close the the trilogy preceded by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the director Edgar Wright, with its scenarist and main actor Simon Pegg, set up a story about five men, that used to be inseparable back in high school, and that one day they decided to go on a crawl bar and drink a pine of beer from every bar of their town, baptizing their journey: The Golden Mile. Twenty three years later, the leader of their group, Gary The Kind (Simon Pegg), was telling members of the AA, this epic episode of his teenage life. It triggered in him, the desire to do this again, but most of all, having a reason to drink again! Therefore, dressed like he was 18 again, he went and convinced each of his buddies, to put on their most stretchy pants, and go back to their Newton Haven, and get drunk as hell just like.

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I didn’t know, what to expect before watching the movie, I knew EdgarWright‘s earlier work, and I new that it was probably going to be a crazy ass movie. However, I wasn’t prepared for what happened then.

I don’t want to spoil, I want people to experience the same surprise that I had and let them judge by themselves, because, I didn’t fully enjoy the movie. I preferred the two first of the trilogy, and thought that maybe this time, Pegg and Wright wanted to go further, to an extent that may led their movie to ridiculousness. I was really captivated at the beginning, laughing and getting real attached to each of the protagonists, but then WOW, the film has its course changed, and it was suddenly totally mad, and going deep into the what the fuck (or “W.T.F” repeated a lot by Martin Freedman). When, usually, the WTF style, is something that I extremely appreciate, for that particular time, oddly, I was disappointed and a bit confused. Maybe, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, put up a high level, and then The World’s End hadn’t been able to follow.

Though, the characters are pretty cool, strongly caricatured and stereotyped, but enjoyable and appealing. Their craziness, was I enjoyed the most, after all they’re all childish and juvenile, keeping this form of youth burning inside them, growing up while they didn’t want to. Nevertheless, something was lacking, something in the script.

Sad to end the trilogy like this, but… the end of the world (well.. kind of) couldn’t be more enjoyed than around a beer.

Gravity – Movie of the Year?

Well, we can discuss that.

Big screen, 3D glasses, some pop corn, and here you go, projected into space, floating to some country music.
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are Matt Kowalski and Ryan Stone, two astronauts sent to fix something with their space shuttle, named Explorer. They are suddenly ordered to be abort their mission, due to several asteroids running straight to them, and susceptible to destroy their space shuttle.
The catastrophes, kept on coming though out the film, but during approximatively the first 15 minutes of the film, except for Ryan Stone kept alive thanks to Kowalski’s gallantry, each member of the crew dies. Fear, anxiousness, accelerated heartbeat, can Gravity be more stressful?

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Nevertheless, it can be considered as Alfonson Cuarón‘s best graphic work since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Indeed, Gravity is first of all, an aesthetic movie, with amazing graphics, an outstanding photography, and the stress felt while watching it, might come from this too-close-to-reality side of the film. Thus, spectators were so captivated, and a little messed up, once the movie ended, staggering out of the movie theater. Because, Gravity is an indisputable and astonishing tableau of space, and a well conducted disaster movie, full of technical, well mastered secrets, and yet it is not a tale about astronauts. There is no ideas, really spread out from it, there is only jaw dropping special effects. Ryan Stone, had luck, perseverances, and hallucinations; those three elements gave her strength, and courage, to struggle, and find a way out, of this enormous nowhere place, that is the universe, and come home, to Earth. This universe, that after all, we don’t know much about, is what Cuarón used in his movie, to attract, and bewitched his spectators. The fact that, we deal with an unknown place, a whole new world or collection of worlds gathered in one big plain of emptiness, is what trigger the fear, in us. The fear of nothingness, and not knowing where to go; this might sound like a quote from an emo kid, but after all, its just a feeling, that we might feel power ten, once confronted to space.

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Now, to say it is the movie of the year, I would say no. No because, it is just a movie about stunning the audience, by breathtaking and nail-biting scenes, mixing up, beauty and horror. There’s no ideas, no messages, just beautiful pictures to keep in mind. Then, what I was disappointed about, is that, is has the same impact, of a basic horror movie, that needs, technical skills, and great suspense. Not to mention, the end, a little bit fetched that seizures the pretty constant line of emotions felt until then.

If Gravity might not be the movie of the year, Sandra Bullock is certainly the actress of the year. The greatly identified the character, and embodied it perfectly. She knew how to pass on emotions, and proved strong and gripping actress qualities and gave birth to that something we can’t really put a hand on, in the movie.

However, despite this good elements, what is Gravity after all? Another brick to the wall of blockbusters.

Doubt – Tricky thing

Is, strongly believing in something wrong, can turn out to be true?

Sometimes, when you really want to believe in a thing, you happen to communicate that belief to other people, even though is a possibly not correct. That how I always considered religion to be. But, this is not about why I believe, or what I don’t believe in.

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Its 1964, and segregation is still printed in people’s mind in the United States, it is getting better, though. Nevertheless, a black child surrounded by white children, may not necessarily leads to tolerance and acceptance. That’s why protecting Donald Miller (Joseph Foster) is a priority. Now, child molestation in catholic churches, is not either something ignored, see the link?

Donald, spent a lot of time with Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he’s nice to him, offers him toys, is present any time the boy needs him. But one day, Donald, in tears, smelling alcohol, asked Sister James (Amy Adams), if he was allowed to go home. Suspicious enough, she went to talk to Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) and share her concerns, and this one directly doubted sexual abuse. Donald is a lonely child, who will he complained to? His father is a beast and his mother, afraid of scandals could only weep. It was time to act.

The whole movie balances whether Father Flynn touched Donald or not. Everything is based on assumptions, on doubts. Nothing is really said, or confessed, it is about all those weird and suspicious elements given to us spectators and to the nuns, that shaped and built our statement or belief. But are we sure it is true? Do we have proof? And until the end, it stays blurry.

Doubt gathers a finically chosen cast, with Meryl Streep as a strict and severe nun, Amy Adams as the naive, and kind one, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the beloved priest of a catholic school, and not to forget Viola Davis the mother of the only black child in the school. I believe the strength of the movie sets among those actors, and their striking performances.

The camera is well used with this sneaky but not to much of a nose she has, and even the way lights have this indisputable, important role in the film, and in a scene in particular when Sister Aloysius interrogate Father Flynn. Thus, this is what I consider a truly mastered scenario, because, to be able to deal this great with technical things, you have to perfectly conceptualize your scenario. Director John Patrick Shanley wrote and known his script and known how he wanted the movie to affect people, and play with their mind. He knew that doubt is a feeling that has tendency to gnaw us from the inside, burn us, and drive us mad. Sister Aloysius was convinced Father Flynn was guilty. She was so convinced, that she could only think about that, and about how she will get that priest out of the school. I felt confused, because a part of me wanted that priest beaten to death (or just judged), and another part of me, was uncomfortable not having any concrete proof of that accusation. Now what was the right thing to do? Better be careful I would say, even though it implied messing with someone’s professional life.

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And I would like to add that, sometimes we also truly want something to be not true, we block our mind into reject thoughts or even proof that we could have concerning a topic, but we don’t want it to be real. Doubt is a good movie, dealing with a hot issue, and with a real psychological approach.

Fausse Note – Where’s the snag?

Let’s talk about Tunisian movies, something I should have done from the beginning, considering the fact that I’m tunisian.

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I worked with Majdi Smiri, seen what type of person he is, what kind of movies he wanted to do, the style he wanted to adopt, and the atmosphere he wanted to develop. Guy Ritchie or Martin Scorsese, action, crimes, money, mafia etc. You directly feel in his first film, Fausse Note, that he achieved something he felt the urge to do for a long time now, using these influences, and offering himself a gift. Because, this is principally, a personal dream finally achieved, and then shared with the society (basically one the description of Cinema).

However, it is obvious, that somewhere, wanting to make a Tunisian, american-film, is pretty much, throwing a spanner in the works. Now, let’s be honest, for a first movie, the director gathered la crème de la crème of tunisian actors (Lotfi Dziri, Lotfi Abdelli, Dhafer El Abidine etc.) and proved some indisputable potential. Indeed, the way he filmed was pretty good, and reminded me a little bit of Tarantino‘s work, and in one superposition of plan, when one of his character is walking in the hallway, he reminded me of what Kubrick did in Shinning. But he also did a great job in how he managed to work his script; if the beginning is not really that captivating, and convincing, the very second you’re about to drop it out, it gets suddenly gripping and catches your attention until the end of the movie, which is to be continued. And if Fausse Note is not very long, it has a unexpected plot twist.

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Majdi Smiri embodies, what I like to call, the New Wave of the Tunisian Cinema, but also embodies, the kind of influence, the american cinema possesses on our culture. Indeed a bunch of various foreign elements are implemented in his movie. Though the director created his proper style, that I would like to qualify, as naive but unpredictable, just like his characters and his script are.

A promising, ambitious filmmaker, that I hope will surprise us, and leave us nothing to criticize for his next work.