Beau Pere (1981) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.1) – Drama, Romance (France)
I was looking for films similar to Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962), one of my all time favorite films, and I bumped into Bertrand Blier’s Beau Pere (literally: Stepfather). I must say that I was rather impressed with this film, even if it is basically just a French, color version of Nabokov’s Lolita. I loved the actors, Patrick Dewaere and Ariel Besse, and their “chemistry” and I loved the fact that in this film it’s the girl that initiates the “relationship”. This may all sound wrong, but for a film dealing with what could essentially be labeled as “pedophila” it is very tastefully executed, while still managing to be erotic. I don’t know how they pulled it off. The film’s attitude is what I appreciated most, because it’s different from most French films and even films dealing with “taboo” subject matter. The filmmaker clearly loves the characters and doesn’t judge them. It’s just an all-round great film I’m sure I’ll re-visit at some point.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976) – 8 (IMDb 6.8) – Drama, Biography (Italy) written & directed by Federico Fellini
Burden of Dreams (1982) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.8) – Documentary (USA)
Burden of Dreams is the “making-of” documentary of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. The film shows all the hardships and difficulties that went into the production and making of Herzog’s crazy epic about a man trying to move a ship over the Peruvian Andes. It’s a great story about a massive achievement in filmmaking and it certainly makes you appreciate the film a whole lot more. Herzog is interviewed and other crew members as well, there are some great, fascinating stories and the film is never boring. Unfortunately unlike the newer Werner Herzog documentaries this one is narrated by a robotic sounding woman, instead of the filmmakers warm German voice. It seems like a weird choice, but as Herzog explained himself during a master class I attended “It took me a while to find my own voice”. He said this in relation to his documentaries, but I think we can all agree that now that he has found it they are more spectacular than ever. Burden of Dreams is still a great film and is especially recommended to Herzog fans, filmmakers and true cinephiles.
These were the best films I watched last week, Fellini’s Casanova being my favorite, but the other two getting both extremely close. What good movies did you guys watch last week?
With Closed Circuit coming out in theaters this weekend this is a good time as any to talk a little bit about paranoia in cinema. If movies are meant to be seen as dreams, some of them are definitely nightmares, and I’m not just talking about horror. We all get paranoid sometimes, filmmakers are no exception. So in listing and thinking about my favorite films about paranoia there are endless possibilities, a lot of great films to chose from. Some directors however deal with the issue of paranoia more than others, so in selecting some of my favorites I decided to pick five films whose directors return to the subject matter with every new film they release(d).
The Birds (1963, Alfred Hitchcock)
Hitchcock is probably the most famous director of all time and besides voyeurism and blonde leading ladies he also had a passion for paranoia. The Birds is one of my personal favorites of his, but fans of his work will know that there is a bit of paranoia in every one of his pictures (to some degree). ‘Birds’ is a great example because the fear is materialized on-screen in a very concrete and palpable fashion. Fifty years after its release it’s still a chilling film about nature turning on humans. Not only is it one of the best, but also one of the scariest horror films of all time, for me anyways, and I say that because fear is very subjective.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)
Well, if Hitchcock is the most famous, Polanski seems even more paranoid to me. Again, it’s a recurring thread in all of his films, but this one right here about diabolic possession, might take the cake for me in terms of favorites. I love its slow burn pacing, Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes and just how scary and perfect the ending is. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I still remember the film vividly in my mind, that’s how much it affected me. If you’re a horror fan this is one of the best and if you’re not, you can’t really deny Roman’s genius and the fact that this film succeeds on every level.
The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
A lot of conspiracy theories around this film and Stanley Kubrick himself and what are conspiracy theories if not structured paranoia? Once again one of the great horror films and a director that seemed to get progressively more paranoid throughout his career culminating in Eyes Wide Shut, and who can tell if he could have topped that in terms of paranoia if he wasn’t prematurely taken from us. The Shining is great, it’s an intimate story about a man taking his family to a secluded hotel in the mountains and then slowly descending into madness; although one might argue that he never really sane to begin with.
Blow Out (1981, Brian De Palma)
A fine mystery/thriller by De Palma, there’s a lot of Freud in it, just like you would expect. John Travolta plays a sound recordist that finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually that’s the typical premise for a film about paranoia: The fact that you are “framed” or “trapped” or just very unlucky, like Travolta’s character. I love the look of this film and how it’s edited. Blow Out is great at creating tension and suspense, a fundamental ingredient for a film about paranoia, and I always found myself on the edge of my seat, not knowing what was going to happen next. With the Cold War still going on a lot of the films of this and proceeding eras are also metaphors for what was going on at the time (just look at all the alien invasion films).
The Social Network (2010, David Fincher)
Might seem like an odd pick, especially coming from someone like me who doesn’t like “cold” filmmaking, but there certainly is a context where that style feels apt and appropriate. In The Social Network I appreciate the unemotional, precise and methodical approach of Fincher’s filmmaking, because he’s portraying characters that could be described similarly. The “Facebook movie” was one of my favorites of that year, because it’s almost like a Citizen Kane in its incredible and fantastic portrayal of very successful, yet lonely people. Just like in every Fincher film there’s also a bit (or a lot) of paranoia, you might not pick it up right away, but it’s there and I certainly noticed it revisiting this great character piece.
That’s it. Those are my five recommendations for this week. If you love film you’ve probably already seen them, but like I said all of those filmmakers have a lot of paranoia flicks in their filmography and some of them (namely Hitch) have a huge catalogue of great works. Other directors that come to mind when thinking of paranoia that I’d like to mention are Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch, Kim Ki-duk, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Michelangelo Antonioni. Coincidentally they also happen to be some of my very favorite directors, so what does that say about me? I guess that should be pretty clear. See you next week and don’t smoke weed, because it heightens your paranoia and if you’re anything like me: That’s the last thing you need.
Hello loyal readers and casual stoppers-by,
How’s cinema treating you this week? Were you brutally disappointed by any films this week? Well, that would be the bad section, here we’re talking films that didn’t live up to their expectations or full potential or whatever, but were still kind of “okay”. Only one film this week for me, if you’ve been reading you know which one it is, if you’re just tuning in now: I’m talking about the ‘Shining documentary’ Room 237.
Room 237 (2012) – 6.5 (IMDb 6.5) – Documentary (USA)
That’s it for ‘meh’ films, if you have some you want to discuss: Speak now or forever hold your peace! I’m kidding obviously, you can always comment and spam and write-in.
I fucking love it.
A couple nights ago I re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), one of my all time favorite horror films. My brother and his friend and I set up a beamer in our living-room and watched Room 237 (the documentary about The Shining) first and then watched Kubrick’s film. It was epic and I appreciated it even more than the first time, having a better knowledge of Stanley Kubrick’s filmography and loving all of the films he has done. I also have a better knowledge of the horror genre, but still, what can I say about the film that hasn’t been said before?
So I came up with a couple ideas while and after watching the film. I noticed that all those ideas are about how The Shining had a huge impact on filmmakers and pop-culture in general. Without prolonging my monologue: Here are five ways in which The Shining was inspirational to other filmmakers and artists all around the globe. Much like Room 237 these are subjective theories, some probably more valid than others.
Sofia Coppola is known to be a fan of Stanley Kubrick fan. She cited Lolita as one of her favorite films, and I certainly agree. The Bar Scene in The Shining reminded me a lot of the one in Lost In Translation and both films mostly take place in a hotel. Maybe it’s the light or the atmosphere or something subconscious, but I think Sofia was inspired by it. You can’t really see it in that picture, but to give you an idea of which scenes I’m referring to.
Wes Anderson is another director that is widely influenced by Kubrick’s aesthetic. The most apparent thing is how he frames his shots. Anderson clearly likes to use wide shots and move his camera like Kubrick used to. His similarities with the master however are mostly on a visual level, thematically and tonally the two couldn’t be more different. The shot on the left is from The Royal Tenenbaums.
Obviously not a visual comparison here, but an audible one. Not that the two scores are terribly similar, but I feel that Johnny Greenwood uses some of the same “wood instruments” (sorry, I’m no musical expert obviously). We all know P. T. Anderson loves Stanley Kubrick, so it’s no stretch that he would assign his composer to do something “similar” or (more likely) Greenwood loves Kubrick as well.
Stanley Kubrick is certainly an auteur, and as such his body of work can and should be viewed as one giant piece. He has evolved stylistically and thematically throughout his career. The Shining maze scene, reminded me of the scene in the trenches in Paths of Glory. In this sense Full Metal Jacket seems like a natural evolution for Kubrick, especially in developing his visual style, just like there would be no ‘Shining’ without Barry Lyndon.
Clearly this idea is kind of silly, but you can’t deny the fact that they’re both on a go-kart, wearing not only the same type of clothing, but the exact same colors. Now, of course Mario has a red hat and all kinds of tricks and he’s actually racing against people, but I can’t help but think that somewhere in Japan someone loved The Shining and wanted to pay homage to it. Even the way it’s shot, from behind is the same!
So, these were my thoughts on The Shining‘s influence and inspiration to other people. The way this film inspired me is that it made me want to watch “older” films. When I first saw it I mostly watched recent mainstream films and now I’m quite the opposite, preferring foreign art house cinema. It’s one of the great horror films and I recommend it to anyone who loves Kubrick, the horror genre or just a good mystery. If you don’t like the horror genre: This is proof that excellent genre pictures exist. If you have seen The Shining, I’d love to hear about how you interpret it and how it inspired you!
Room 237 is a documentary that offers various theories and interpretations of the horror movie The Shining (1980). Directed by Stanley Kubrick (based on the novel by Stephen King), The Shining is considered one of the best horror films in cinema history. It’s a complex, open-ended and ambiguous film, and thus perfectly lends itself to be dissected and discussed. Rodney Ascher, director of the documentary, decided not to show the “experts” interviewed in the film, but just let them talk over the images of The Shining and other Stanley Kubrick films. Continue reading