Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Saw this on the plane....thought it was absolutely great.


I also saw The King's Speech....which I thought was absolutely great too...


and Black Swan, which really, really wasn't.*


Is British film about to undergo a revival? Hope so....





*That Aronofsky! Five shit middlebrow art movies in a row...get another job you useless cunt!

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know lots of people didn't like that Aronofsky movie, but it feels so good to see the fucker put down so passionately and succinctly. What a fucking awful movie that was. Worst bit - when the mum is painting and all those faces swirl nightmarishly. Such bad execution and so stupid too. Sigh. Thanks for the welcome shot of acrimony, Carl. He IS a cunt for making that!

- Matthew

W. Kasper said...

I'm actually embarrassed I liked his first two films when I first saw them. He's always been shit - a worse charlatan than Lynch or Von Tier. Doesn't help that I fancy his wife either (those schoolboy hate motives never go away really... call it 'value-added').

carl said...

it's a feasible new pub game... most gallingly inept and hamfisted bit in an Aronofsky movie... Black Swan seems to be premised on the idea that there could be such a thing as a scary Natalie Portman....

my least favourite bit was Vincent Cassel's entire performance....or maybe the -I've got an O'Level in Freud- set design or... cliche upon cliche..

it was multidemensionally shite that film wasn't it.....

I have a sneaking respect for The Fountain just because its SO vapidly overblown it almost acieves a kind of grandeur in its sheer narcissitic folly

Aronofsky, like so many wouldbe edgy 90's polymaths, is just a horrible old bluffer innee? A slick bullshit artist....

an Eggers, you might say...

W. Kasper said...

Vincent Cassel's another one - a series of poor performances after a promising start (he has similar 'value-added' resentments for me too - "the best thing I like about you is..." etc.). Cronenberg usually casts well, but he was godawful in Eastern Promises. Especially compared to good ol' Viggo.

The Fountain was like bad video art, or a musical Xmas TV special with no songs. So bad I had to remind myself it was actually playing and I wasn't dreaming it (had that with a few turkeys, like Southland Tales or Kill Bill).

The youthful stoner who found Pi 'far out' is a skin I'm glad to have shed. Even it's rather good, but annoyingly contrived, soundtrack makes me cringe.

Simon said...

black swan is a silly silly movie (a la breaking the waves) but nobody rates the wrestler?

darren & his lovely ex-missus's son was in the same class at the same class at the same preschool as our youngest in new york last year

never spoke to D but his then-wife is very nice

i found myself taking extra care with hair on mornings when it was my turn to drop Tasmin off at school

Simon said...

glad you like Made in Dagenham, i was surprised nobody in this corner of blogosphere said a peep about it - i mean, a film that takes a favourable view of the perpetrators of industrial action, that's got to be pretty rare

(well there was that movie that had a young Will Oldham in about striking West Virginian miners facing Pinkertons thugs)

the clever ideological move in Dagenham is the way they equate and link the spirit and mettle of the female strikers with the spirit of WW2, the Blitz, Dunkirk etc - it's woven all through the movie, you have the elderly worker who was emotionally scarred by his WW2 experiences, various speeches that connect British standing-up to Nazism with workers sticking up for their rights, and perhaps a visual echo of the female workplace and the female-operated armaments factories during the War

it's an artful counter to the "enemy within" view of organised labour

Simon said...

i enjoyed King's Speech but did you really think it was "great"?

carl said...

must be nice to have hair to take care of....

nah, don't like The Wrestler...it's kind of, massive act of directorial hubris is panned, let's retreat to a low key gritty realist movie about the underclass and family issues.. so from the off i was sceptical...plus the whole tortured fuck-up gets one last shot at redemption (including final death plunge freeze frame)was pure Rocky....i think both Black Swan and the Wrestlera are really banal straight to dvd b-movies dressed up with a bit of auterist grit/flash and a patina of critique to keep the broadsheet reviewers happy

....do like the springsteen song though....big Karaoke fave of mine...

yeah re MID I kept waiting for it to cop out... and it really doesn't....so i was actually kind of gobsmacked...I hadn't thought about the ww2 thing though of course now you mention it....! i thought about it more in terms of the Full Monty, as a kind of corrective on its post industrial emasculated new man dancey stuff... which starts with a public information film about Sheffield, dunnit. When i saw it, it got laughs (oh the bitter irony fifteen years on...) and is kind of presented as "comical"... look at how ridiculous and industrial shiny new britain used to be...wheras in MID it's actually rather gobsmacking, the sheer scale of the factory/works... it has an entirely different tenor to the Full Monty's use of the industrial past...

I guess MID is really a film about agency, the growing sense of being able to direct your own life/lives....it's absolutely pro worker and pro feminist (including that scene when the middle class women goes round and tells her to keep fighting....not many scenes of the middle classes paying homage to the world historical power of the proles in recent brit cinema as far as i can rememeber)

PLUS it has all the cheesy feelgood semtimentality of yer standard multiplex fare ( i cried twice)! so all in all pretty bloody remarkable....


err yeah fair cop on the King's Speech, guv... i only said that it was great to

a) surprise anyone who would naturally have assumed i hated it...

b) provide, through repetition,
greater impact for the line on Aronofsky...

i actually thought it was "surprisingly pretty good"

W. Kasper said...

Have to confess that preposterous nonsense Breaking The waves brought a tear to the eye - but that's either because of Emily Watson's performance, or regarding it as a comedy for the first two acts. Dancer in the Dark was Mel Brooks-esque in tis hilarity. Never saw the Wrestler - it looked like a digital Rocky, and we've already had six of them.

RE: made in Dagenham and WW2 -

There's a strange 'retromania' lurking around the British Left these days (hard and soft alike). Progressive politics plus nostalgia is an odd development (still uncertain whether it even is a 'development').

If I was mixing in similar circles to RW, I'd go beyond hair - I'd take a year of elocution lessons and invest a month's wages in a nice new suit or two. I doubt incisive film critique would be enough to tip the balance though...

W. Kasper said...

RE: That Will Oldham one 'Matewan' is a bit of a classic (and 'Lone Star') - managing to be a proper exciting western without compromising its convictions. Sad world where John Sayles is so underrated, when fools like Aaronofsky get Oscar noms. Sayles gets Kris Kristofferson to give a great performance, while Darren makes his luminous wife look silly floating in a balloon. Go figure.

carl said...

MID doesn't feel like a nostalgic movie though... what i hoped it woudn't do was end by saying "so we won all the fights and now we're a proper society, not like in the past! Post history time!!!" and it doesn't pull that move...or several other Blairite/nostalgic moves it could have gone for..

sayles is underrated (though there's been some pretty ploddingt stuff in there too) but actually you just reminded me of another great Connery movie, The Molly Maguires. Martin Ritt!

while we're on the subject of political yet faintly entertaining cinema, ever seen Quembrada (burnt!) by Pontecorvo...?

W. Kasper said...

Quimada/Burn is great - the lost classic of Brando's early 70s hat trick, I reckon. Even if it did chicken out and make Portugal the enslavers to keep Franco happy (not a healthy compromise, methinks). Has a 'spagetti western' vibe in some parts too.

Never heard of Molly Maguire's, but Ritt is generally pretty good. For all his crap movies, the big hairy milkman's made enough classics to ensure his legend. Roger Moore couldn't say the same, could he?

Benjamin said...

Burn was written by Franco Solinas, which accounts in part for the Spaghetti Western elements (http://www.filmreference.com/Writers-and-Production-Artists-Sh-Sy/Solinas-Franco.html). I personally think it's a great film.

Post-Continental Satyr said...

Carl on the basis of your dismissal of the Black Swan I decided to put ''Classless'' on sale for 8 euro (the original price was 14 euro) and I will also sell it for under 2 euro if there are any interested buyers, though it doesn't look very promising.

Only a goddamn queen's bottom could call THE KING OF SPEECH (or QUEEN, for that matter) - a good movie.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to see Made In Dagenham, sounds good.

I must admit, much as I hated Black Swan, I did enjoy a lot about The Wrestler. I guess it does have a fair bit in common with Rocky, but I thought the performances by Rourke and Tomei were 'top nosh'. Also liked the preparation scenes, where 'Randy''d get his battered body ready for the ring. Maybe that's what Aronofsky's best at - getting out of the way of the performer and just filming them at work. That was about the only thing I liked in Black Swan- when Portman's character is tearing her points, or getting some physio. In other words, not depicting the inner state, for once.

I used to love (watching) wrestling when I was a kid. Seems to be mostly for kids and leery middle-aged women. Aronofsky should drop the lofty artiness and make one for them instead.

Worst bit of The Wrestler- when Randy is bedroom-ramjamming Post-Satyr Continental. A bit gratuitous I thought.

- Matthew

W. Kasper said...

The state of Post-Satyr's face was awful to behold. He should sue his plastic surgeons.

carl said...

@ Matt..
yeah i guess The Wrestler is least worst....but you've hit on a thing there that is intersting you know, which is that the world of ballet, or wrestling or whatever are probably completely fascinating in technical terms but the film's are basically over-interested in sentiment and message and don't really get to grips with the professional worlds the characters inhabit, which is where a lot of the interest is ....they're actually quite similar films, blacks swan and the wrestler, aren't they... both end with the death of the central character at the height of the performance etc..

i've just remebered another awful bit.. when she comes back to the dressing room and discovers that (gasp!)the bad Natalie isn't there!!!! Like this is all maybe going on in her head!!!!!

but.. basically i was going to mention Theif, the Michael Mann film, which has these tremendously long opening and closing sequences with no dilaogue and of course the Tangerine Dream score, which relentlessly focus on the mechanics and the craft/skill of safecracking....

it's a truly great film in many respects (one of Schrader's "accidentally Marxist" movies) but this prolonged take on machines and the physical labour of the theives is especially fascinating.. i guess it's a kind of celebration of the beauty/sublimity of the industrial/blue collar just at the point at which it's dying out... it was made in 80/81 i think...

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely check that out Carl, thanks for the tip!

Another very crap bit in Black Swan - the frig; maybe the simplest proof of Aronofsky's hamfistedness is that he could even fuck up something so, ah, well, so promising really. I mean, as a bit of a perve I'll admit it sounds like a pretty good idea, but he basically can't help overcooking every little thing, fearing it won't be sexy enough or meaningful enough for a stupid public. Moronic and perhaps inadvertently damaging- as a friend said, now all these teenage girls are gonna think that's how it's done...

- Matt

Anonymous said...

... I might be over-thinking the frig. Just like D. A...

Alex Niven said...

The King's Speech Carl? Really?

What's to like? I was so offended by the premise - head of the British Empire struggles courageously with minor lifestyle defect - that I refused to see it.

I'm all for looking beyond ideology at times, but isn't it retro-imperial Oscar porn of an unredeemable kind?

W. Kasper said...

I had similar prejudices that stopped me from seeing it. A royal wedding, naked class war and a parliament without a mandate - and we get the ruling class as scared little boy winning one for the gipper? Er...

carl said...

heh, yeah....

Actually there are several interesting things in it and numerous deeply offensive bits, basically why it’s good is in its depiction of the sheer demented rottenness of the Royal family, of course there is an awful bit toward the end when the king finally masters his speech and we finally have a shot of the commoners all clustered around the wireless with their simple peasant faces taking succour from the kings Powerfully Unifying Centrality, but the King himself isn’t a particularly laudable or lauded figure in the film and the films basic theses , that this is where the “divinity” of Royalty begins to be mercilessly exposed, partly through mass media amplifying certain congenital and psychological defects which then require certain kinds of modern practices, one based on psychoanalysis to a degree, in which the “King” is deconstructed and built back up, (rather well echoed in the set designs and framings and so on) and at which point Royalty has to begin to re-invent itself, to be both “human” and yet also attempt to find some way to justify it’s continued existence etc… So I read it along side the Queen as a film about the collision between the principles/institutions of Monarchy and their adaptation to the new “democratizing” forces of the mass media etc… and as a film about trauma on several levels….

Plus I watched it directly after MID so it was interesting to see two different takes on recent British history and I wasn’t in the country when the wedding was going on and it probably felt like part of a propaganda campaign.

Also I’m kind of happy to have ha d both those films come out in the same year, films that are fundamentally about the class system….

Alex Niven said...

Ha okay. Difficult to argue with that.

Although ... from what you say, it sounds like the discussion of class is nullified by the overall triumphalism. I really should see that damn thing first, I know, but it seems like the film itself in its reception has become another PR propaganda triumph for the alliance (coalition?) between Old Tory Establishment and new liberal media royalty, bearing in mind the Oscars and the Firth-Bonham Carter lib-dem connection, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that it sounds like a very Clegg-Cameron film. And isn't the "deconstruction" of the monarchy is actually just a valorisation of "human" individualism of the kind you talk about in Classless, but one that the film supports rather than subverts?

But yeah I can see that examining this shift at its starting point in the mid-twentieth century is useful.

Again, I haven't seen it, but the promo seemed to speak of resurgence and return to past glories, in contrast to The Queen, which had all that melancholic "last of the mohicans" stuff running through it.

carl said...

Yeah there’s certainly plenty to hate in the film if you’re of a mind to do so, and I’m sure the broader set of personal associations are all fairly foul. It’ isn’t really a triumphal film though, more about the pyrrhic victory of George becoming king. The Implication in the King’s Speech is that no-one actually really wants the monarchy to continue, no-one wants to be the king, but through tradition, inertia, vested interests etc it’s kind of forced to go on…and I don’t think the film portrays the abdication and George’s coronation in heroic terms. Firth is actually very good, this kind of grey, boiling, shambling figure, not particularly likeable, nor heroic, not especially expressive or whatever. A kind of no-one who finally doesn’t have the balls to refuse. The supporting characters, Churchill, various functionaries are a ll pretty unattractively drawn, there’s no t much sense of joy in the royal household or the royal marriage. So it doesn’t really do that “he may be the king but also just a boy looking at a nation and asking it to love him” stuff, its “feelgood” ending is very muted. So it doesn’t pull the trad humanist swerve either I think. It’s really sombre sparse and wintery, so it contrast interestingly with MID which is all noise and drama and colour. It’s kind of the vitiated, desperate Monarchy in one and the confident, energized proles in the other.
Rush’s character is interesting , similar to Blair in the Queen, an outside force who modernizes the Royals through more demotic/democratic pressures etc…

Alex Niven said...

Right well I'm pretty sold now! Something to watch of an evening when the rain returns at least.

W. Kasper said...

Alex-
I was going with your 'Carmodisation' of its success - I only trust critics who haven't seen it!

Aren't a lot of these films about redeeming royals etc. to make them palatable to younger audiences? Even if they don't intend to? Like a lot people who would hate Blair or Churchill, but don't have a strong opinion on the Queen. 'They're just like you! They find it hard to adapt!' Very 'coaltion' really.

I mean. maybe King George did have blue piss - but why are we supposed to sympathise with that and ignore the Kingy stuff?

chimp said...

Rourke gave a performance in the wrestler that Stallone could only dream of. And it was shot on 16mm not digital.

chimp said...

For me Black Swan works as garish slop that ought to be bad for you but somehow is alluring. Aronofsky will never be subtle for shizzle, and i really wasn't ready for any more trust funders on dope films by his second. However, i'm slighlty puzzled by the bile aimed at him in these comments (Matthew) OK it's Carl's hoose and Carl does bile elegantly, but a cunt? As a proud Scot, that term is only and best heard in the confines of one of our notoriously foul-mouthed drinking holes....

carl said...

First of all, I like the idea (probably completely unfounded) that this blog has a high proportion of Scottish readers. Secondly I like the idea that my notion that revulsion at the us e of the word cunt is a southern prejudice may be entirely my own (and err.. well.. Waynes’) fantasy an d that in fact it may only be perfectly normal and acceptable to me (and ..errr…Wayne
Mayb e it’s a Yorkshire thing?

Thirdly, I reckon Stallone has produced some alright performances y’know and I also reckon that Rourke is no great shakes in The Wrestler (it’s certainly hard to do subtle and nuanced emoting when your face is locked in perma-puff, a kin d of bright orange choux-pastry rictus)PLUS the whole neglected former heartthrob fallen on hard time returns triumphant in gritty low key role is an obvious indy casting move at that point (Vincent Gallo got there first right?) so the knee-jerk plaudits were virtually guaranteed from the start due to dovetailing of real life an d filmic rebuttals of the notion that “there are no second acts in American lives”.
Also re the cunt thing… I think we’re going through a little purgation ritual here (and elsewhere) where w e banish the ghost s of hipness past and repudiate those 90s and 00s smart young men (DFW EGGERS ARONOFSKY etc) something which requires a degree e of expressive violence ( we don’t want to be too half-hearted about it, that half-heartedness would be part of what we perceive as the problem).

carl said...

Elegant bile!

Like it.

chimp said...

Gallo! Now there's a man worth some column inches. I like to refer to him as an "interesting asshole". Do like the fact he trades vintage analogue music gear to fund stuff... oh and his sperm if i remember rightly. By hard times do you mean the Brown Bunny fallout? Still can't make up my mind about him in Trouble Every Day and quite keen to see yon Skolimowski film "Essential Killing" where Gallo doesn't speak but still won best actor at Venice FF.

Re. the choux pastry rictus (such elegance) i guess i'm a sucker for the pathos factor. I'm of that age where Rumblefish and even Angel Heart still hold a charge.

Anonymous said...

Hi chimp,
You're right about the naughty language, but something (no, lots actually) about Aronofsky takes me there! It's a pressure valve going off here as most of the people I know loved it, which perversely shitted me. Anyhow, point taken.
-Matthew

Alex Niven said...

Btw Carl, have you seen Biutiful yet? If so, what did you reckon? I saw it and thought about White Diaspora, of course.

I thought it (Biutiful) wasn't too bad, but couldn't really make up it's mind about what sort of film it was - social critique, magic realist whimsy, and Shyamalan-style mysticism not quite gelling together.

W. Kasper said...

Cunt's OK as long as you only call grown men it (like 'slag'). If used in more polite corners of the south, use an 'ironic' Don Logan/Derek and Clive voice to dilute tension.

Vincent Gallo is a grade-A capital C Cunt, talentless director, bad actor, preening dwarf, racist pornographer, and all round enemy of the people. Warp records jumped the shark when they give the goblin a record deal.

He was OK in that film with Johnny Depp (forgot the name), but that's because he was basically playing himself ie. a pretentious, talentless cunt.

W. Kasper said...

As for Angel Heart, I loved it when I was a teenager, but Alan Parker's also a cunt (Thatcherite wide-boy made good and always telling us about it, see also the Scott bros.). His only good film was the one with Albert Finney as a washed-up divorcee of limited talent (Shoot The Moon), which I suspect had deeply-felt autobiographical elements.

And before anyone brings up Bugsy Malone, I have two words: Mini Pops.

Phil Knight said...

I haven't seen any of Aronofsky's films, but what I have noticed is that "Lux Aeterna" has become the soundtrack of choice for every crackpot NWO/911 Inside Job/Socialist Obama video on Youtube.

Which is good, because as soon as I hear the opening notes, I can click onto something else.

W. Kasper said...

One day I'm gonna make a Curtis-esque doc about the sinister links between Benny Hill, Level 42, Woodrow Wyatt and Oswald Spengler; and how this prepared shiftless bloggers for peak oil crisis. With Lux Aeterna playing throughout. I'll call it 'The Peterborough Putsch'!

Yes, I'm pissed.

Phil Knight said...

Drunk with the spirit of Tao, I note.....

W. Kasper said...

Three pints in the woozy sunshine is The Way. The Way to what, I'm in no condition to know.

Knew I should have eaten something first... I'll never learn...

chimp said...

Hey Wayne... yeah that Depp / Gallo one is Arizona Dream (dir. Kursturica) . Gallo has two great moments - one where he namechecks Johnny Depp and Depp (in character) doesn't flinch, and the other his stupendously lame / genius version of the cropduster scene from North by Northwest.

I still think he deserves asshole status rather than full blown cunt tho. PJ Harvey stuck with him for a while...

chimp said...

The Aronofsky and Parker comments throw up media persona vs. creative output issues. Is Angel Heart a bad adult film because Parker is a Tory? Aronofsky a cunt because he makes films not actually worse than a million other piss poor hollywood turkeys?

Damn i said the c-word outside the pub. Ya hoor ye.

W. Kasper said...

Ah I'm just fishing for ever more excuses to not watch, read or buy stuff these days.

As for PJ Harvey - going by her peculiar boyfriend record, maybe she seeks out arseholes for lyric material...

W. Kasper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W. Kasper said...

Anyway, never mind films'n'pop rubbish. Let Ed Miliband know why he's a lame duck android who must go! The survival of two out of three social classes hangs in the balance:


http://edmiliband.org/2011/06/30/i-wanted-to-respond-to-people-who-disagree-with-me-about-todays-strike

Anonymous said...

Just watched Theif on your recommendation Carl. Loved it. The Marxist element really comes out towards the end, when Frank (Caan) goes to get paid and talks about "the yield of MY labour!" Very stylish movie too, and I really liked the soundtrack. Thanks again for the tip.

Now I'm off to the cinemas to see Tree Of Life. Wayne, did you end up watching this one, going against your gut feeling that it'd suck?

-Matt

Anonymous said...

Unasked for update re. Tree Of Life (and then I'll retire into again strictly only reading these posts):
It's bookended with long, non-linear sequences that feel more like an epic trailer than anything Malick's done before. Some very impressive scenes, but the cumulative effect of so many drapes billowing, fields rustling, and hunks brooding just made it all feel so grandiloquent rather than moving. The pugnosed kid's great though, and the main bit of the movie is far more tolerable than the 'Planet Earth'-style start and end. There're dinosaurs in there too, and it's some achievement that this isn't ridiculous but might oddly be the most affecting bit in the whole self-conscious 'masterpiece'. Malick's worst, it's still worth sitting through.

carl said...

ahh yeah... actually i started to write something on Thief last year but then it morphed into a ridiculous, potentially book length overview of Mann Friedkin and Shrader as "european" directors ie smarter than lucas?spielberg etc...might finish it some day... just that it started with the same quote.. this bit....

FRANK (mild, tense) Where is my end?
LEO (reasonable) You can't see day for night.
FRANK I see my money which is from the yield of my labor is still in your pocket. What gratitude? I see you making big profits off of my risk, my work, my sweat. And that's okay. 'Cause I elected to be here. But now is the beginning of my life. Now our deal is I get my end! And now I am out!
LEO Why don't you join a labor union?
FRANK I am wearing it!

(We know he refers to the .45 in his waistband.)

actually Caan made some good films round that time, quite hard to find now... The Gmabler, Hide in Plain Sight (which he directed i think))

Anonymous said...

That scene was brutal! It carried a kind of resonance for me too, because I'm about to quit a little job where my wages are still owing and I've had to repeatedly ask for money every week. Argh.

I'd love to read your overview one day if or when it's finished.

Best,
Matthew