05 September 2005

Me and You, and Everyone We Know

Dir. Miranda July, 2005
John Hawkes - Richard Swersey; Miranda July - Christine Jesperson; Miles Thompson - Peter; Brandon Ratcliff - Robby; Carlie Westerman - Sylvie; Natasha Slayton - Heather; Najarra Townsend - Rebecca; Hector Elias - Michael; Tracy Wright - Nancy

I kept completely forgetting the name of this film, or what it was about at all when trying to convince mrs belboid that we should go see it. It was directed by a performance artist, that was all I could remember. But, there was nothing else on that night anyway, so she had little choice.

The opening was somewhat worrying, as it was a piece by the chartacter played by said performance artist (Miranda July as Christine ), and it was really bloody awful tosh. However, it rapidly improved as we meet Richard (Hawkes, Sol Star from Deadwood), who is in the process of splitting up with his wife, and who gives the impression of having some kind of mental health issues going on. It got even better a few more minutes in as we followed a funeral procession for a goldfish.

I suppose it's a film about the fragility of relationships and the lousy communication that happens when trying to initiate them (whether that's over the net, the written word, or actual one-to-one conversations). Most of the main characters are after one or other of the others, and this often leads to some incredibly disturbing situations, yet ones which are also incredibly funny as well. So disturbing are they, tho, that some Christian mag has condemned the film as only to be viewed by paedophiles! They are, of course, quite wrong, as is shown by the culmination of each 'relationship', which are hilariously and thoroughly believably done.

Other than that, it's a pretty 'slight' film, but well worth seeing for the performances of the five youngsters in it, all of whom are excellant, particularly Brandon Ratcliff as seven year old Robby, who is absolutely astounding.

Back and forth. Forever.

Crash (2004)

Crash is a perfect example of a well marketed film that fully utilizes the power of the film review quote and 'look at the pedigree' of this film maker. Prior to Crash film maker Paul Figgis has been attached to many projects (mainly as a writer) as diverse as 'Due South' and.....erm...'The Tracey Ulman Show'. However this isn't a past the studios want us to know about-and lets face it when you've written the screenplay for the multi Oscar winning 'Million dollar Baby' what other credentials do you need to espouse? Its this single biggest and most well known credit that is splashed on film posters along with some choice film quotes which possibly could lead one to believe that this film will be excellent. Well not this cinema goer.

Crash is a disjointed non linear narrative-a technique rinsed so many times and made popular by the far superior film maker John Altman (the phrase Altmanesque is oft quoted to describe such a film), that fails miserably. Its a film which has a 'message' with no point. It could be argued that its a film about the 'futility of racism' which is an admirable point to make-what it actually turns out to be is a ham fisted poorly made film that relentlessly batters you with racism in every scene.

There is little redemption-the structure of the movie doesn't tie itself up neatly in the end and it leaves with you with no real answers-no reflective period just an empty feeling and a nasty one at that. Figgis not only takes control of the directing but also scripts and writes the screenplay for this movie and you get the impression that he is a director with a 'vision'-but what that vision is remains unclear. Its clear that this film is personal to Figgis but somehow he allowed what could've been a potentially great film sink even further with some dire casting-including the truly awful Brendon 'George of The Jungle' Fraser and Sandra 'I Only do Sandra' Bullock. Don Cheadle does a grand job of grimacing and seems to act in a shockingly restrained manner (compared to previous roles he has played) and even the normally reliable Matt Dillon puts in a 'turn up on the day and collect my pay cheque' perfomance.

Crash is a wannabe film that resembles many films but plagiarises poorly. The musical score is totally ratcheted up to annoyingly dramatic levels. Actor close ups only work when the acting is good-which in this case it clearly isn't. There is some interesting cinematography in this film but you get the feeling that he is trying to over arch into 'stylish' to give the film some sort of credibility. Some of the film resembles a Made for TV Movie and some of the story strands border on the ridiculous.

Crash is a deeply unsatisfying movie that simply tries to hard. Its messy film making that doesn't know what it wants to be-the bastardised son Magnolia whose had sex with the aunty of Short Cuts. Very disappointing.