Category: Movies


80 days without a balloon

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS by Jules Verne

(First published 1873)

 

51xoe02htcl._sx331_bo1204203200_To navigate the circumference of the globe in 80 days, Phileas Fogg and companions travel by trains, steamships, an elephant and a snow sledge but, to my surprise, never once use a hot air balloon.

This turns out to be one of the great literary misconceptions which derives from the liberties taken with the plot of the novel for the 1956 movie adaptation. The makers decided to plunder this visually spectacular means of transport from Verne’s earlier yarn ‘Five Weeks In A Balloon’. Many editions of the novel have compounded this error by misleading book covers.

Balloon or no balloon, it is not properly explained why Fogg recklessly decided to make the bet to embark on this improbable adventure. Prior to this, the predictability of his daily routines are highlighted. His travel experience consists solely of walking with a steady step the short distance from his home at 7 Saville Row, Burlington Gardens to London’s Reform Club in Pall Mall. Continue reading

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The Sea Of Trees directed by Gus Van Sant (USA, 2015)
sea

This movie bombed at the box office, was universally mauled by the critics and booed at the Cannes Film Festival. There have been other failures in Gus Van Sant’s otherwise illustrious career but nothing on such a disastrous scale. I will include spoilers in an attempt to identify what went so horribly wrong.
Continue reading

Movies for perverts

THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO CINEMA written and presented by Slavok Žižek (Directed by Sophie Fiennes, 2006)
the_pervert27s_guide_to_cinema

The title of this enlightening three-part documentary is eye-catching but likely to be misleading.

A pervert is someone whose sexual behaviour is considered abnormal or unacceptable but this film is not a guide for those seeking gratification from soft or hardcore porn in modern movies.

The unconventional Slovenian philosopher & psychoanalyst examines how the function of cinema is to mediate between our ‘illicit’ drives and our socially conditioned actions.

In Freudian terms, this is the internal struggle between the id and the super-ego. Žižek states provocatively states that “we need the truth of a fiction to express what we really are” or, more ambiguously, “desire is a wound of reality”.

Watching movies, he argues, is not merely an escapist pastime but an essential means by which to show how reality is constructed. Continue reading

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS directed by Josie Rourke (UK/USA, 2018)
THE FAVOURITE directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (UK/USA, 2018)

fight the powerfavourites

Personally, I blame Harvey Weinstein.

Were it not for him (and similar monsters) the gender politics that drive these two royal dramas would have been quite different.

Both are contemporary, feminist-orientated dramas which play fast and loose with notions of historical accuracy. The tone and thrust of each is to resolutely present women centre stage and very much in charge of their own destinies. Men are there to service their ambitions or else conveniently sidelined. Continue reading

514oymgsnpl._sx323_bo1204203200_The seemingly unstoppable momentum that culminated in what many regard as the greatest movie of all time was the basis for ‘The Road To Xanadu’, the compelling first volume of Simon Callow’s four-part biography of Orson Welles.

Prior to Citizen Kane, Welles brought his radical vision and insatiable creative energy to bear on innovative radio broadcasts and ground-breaking theatre productions.

Having achieved so much at such a young age, the remainder of his career was, by common consensus, anti-climatic. Welles himself joked of his movies that he started at the top and had been working his way down ever since.

Volume 2 of his story is therefore an attempt to explain what went wrong when this larger than life actor, writer and director seemed to have the world at his feet. Continue reading

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