FlickerThoughts – The Podcast UPDATE

After much beating around the bush (I don’t really know what the literal meaning of that phrase means, but it seems appropriate here), I have uploaded the first episode of the FlickerThoughts podcast.

It is a little rushed, I must admit, and I am yet to figure out how to add intro and outro interlude music, but I think it is alright.

I also realised upon editing the audio together that I say ‘um’ a lot. Umm…

Anyway, take a listen. More to come!

Ella

 

 

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Perfection

02GRAND1-jumbo

Here’s the plot:

In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Zero (Tony Revolori), a junior lobby boy, becomes Gustave’s friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel’s guests, including satisfying the sexual needs of the many elderly women who stay there. When one of Gustave’s lovers dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a priceless painting and the chief suspect in her murder.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is written and directed by my personal  hero and all-time favourite director, Wes Anderson. It is his greatest cinematic accomplishment so far, as it weaves a brilliant story directing incredible actors in a visually stunning and original world.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautifully written. It is a story within a story within a story told by multiple narrators, and therefore through the eyes of multiple characters. Characters that are each engaging, dynamic and completely likeable (even the dubious ones). The dialogue is funny and poignant, driving us through this surreal world that I, personally would like to live in.

With this film comes a threshold of brilliant actors and performances. Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Lèa Seydeux, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray (obviously), Jason Schwartzman (obviously), Owen Wilson (obviously) and the list goes on. They are each complicated and interesting and I would watch a movie about any one of their characters.

This world, the world of the Grand Budapest, is so wondrous. It fits perfectly in the universe that Wes Anderson has crafted with each of his films.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is perfect, therefore I will say no more, as I wish for you all to see it. Now.

★★★★★

Ella

Whiplash: Just my tempo

whiplash-brazilian-poster-09182014-175601-620x310

Here’s the plotline:

A promising young drummer (Miles Teller) enrols at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realise a student’s potential.

From the moment Whiplash opens, it’s energy is electrifying. Masterfully directed by Damien Chazelle (who is an absolute baby, by the way), Whiplash has quite a simple story but is absolutely brought alive by it’s editing and performances by actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

I must note that I am quite obsessed with J.K. Simmons. Ever since I saw him in Juno, I have made a conscious effort to see every film that he is in, not only because he is a remarkable performer, but also because he has great taste in scripts. He is the absolute king of supporting actors. Usually pitted in more comedic or melancholy roles, we get to see the Simmons play this incredibly menacing, wild character who seems to have no limits whatsoever. It’s really quite remarkable the things that this character says, one of my favourite being “Oh my dear God. Are you one of those single tear people? Do I look like a double fucking rainbow to you?”  I mean wow.

And then there’s Miles Teller. I’ve seen him in a few indie films as well as a couple of crappy comedies over the years. He worked so hard for this role, just to be cast in it. Watching his performance in Whiplash is really exciting, because he literally unfolds and blooms before our eyes (with the added bonus of blood, sweat and tears). Teller is definitely one to watch and will be the next so-and-so actor of the future, and this will have been the film that did it.

The way in which Whiplash is edited is astonishingly good. It’s almost like the jazz piece “Whiplash” itself. It’s quick, but not in a dizzying way. More timely (I’m trying not to use the work rhythmic, because I hate using it to describe editing) than anything as it does not rush or lag at all. There is not a moment in this film that would need trimming, because it would be like cutting a bar out of a song. It just wouldn’t fit together right. And most importantly, it pushes and builds so perfectly into a magnificent climax in the closing sequence.

I really, really loved this film. Whiplash is produced with my favourite kind of filmmaking – small budget, good script, great actors. The recipe to success.

★★★★1/2

 

Ella

The Theory of Everything: Is it just love?

tumblr_ninhl6Ocfd1rkptaqo2_500

I usually don’t get behind the anecdote “behind every great man, there’s a woman”, but for this film, the saying runs true.

Here’s a brief plotline:

In the 1960s, Cambridge University student and future physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with fellow collegian Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). At 21, Hawking learns that he has motor neuron disease. Despite this – and with Jane at his side – he begins an ambitious study of time. He and Jane defy terrible odds and break new ground in the fields of medicine and science, achieving more than either could hope to imagine.

Now, rather than playing out as your average biopic, The Theory of Everything is, at it’s core, a true love story. Directed by James Marsh and based upon Jane Wilde-Hawking’s own Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, the story feels very intimate as it shows the truest flaws of these two characters, beautifully played by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

The film begins in 1963, a positively lovely era for on it’s own, on the night that the two meet. There is a truly magical feel to these first few scenes, and others littered throughout, when their romance is blooming. The colour palette and cinematography seem other-worldly mixed with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s beautiful score. It’s extremely intimate, and we are brought back to this feeling of intimacy only a few times throughout the film’s progression, becoming fewer and further every time. Surrounding these scenes are what can only be described as harsh reality. Stephen’s study, diagnosis and daily life are not padded with the soft colours, but rather with very British greys and browns. But the colour comes back not only during the intimate moments shared within the Hawking family, but also when Stephen makes his discoveries about time and space. It’s almost as if the discoveries and realisations are prompted by this feeling shared between Hawking and the audience.

I really have to stress how much I loved these characters, especially Jane. The fact that this film is set mostly from Jane’s perspective is probably what makes it so intimate and thus successful. She puts her own intellectual endeavours on hold for the man that she loves, or at least has to love. And further into the film, she is so alone.

What I am trying to say is, this film could easily have been so one-sided. Nobody will ever question (nor should they) that Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest, most impressive men the world has seen. But if it weren’t for Jane, it seems as though he would not have found the found the ability to have come so far. To discover that there should be no boundary to the human endeavour.

The film ends with a montage, bringing us backwards through the story we have just been told, pausing during the most intimate moments that brought us to the film’s conclusion. This sequence genuinely brought me to tears. Even without knowing the story, it is a really lovely piece of cinema. It shows us, the audience that in all of the universe, these two people came together and created legacies through their love. One: their family. The other: discoveries about the galaxy that turn our own existence as humankind into nothing more inconspicuous than specks of dust.

And all of this brought on by love.

★★★★

Ella

Boyhood: Am I missing something?

bhood

The joys and pitfalls of growing up are seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), his parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke) and his sister (Lorelei Linklater). Vignettes, filmed with the same cast over the course of 12 years, capture family meals, road trips, birthday parties, graduations and other important milestones.

Boyhood is written and directed by Richard Linklater. Filmed on a very small budget over twelve years, the simple idea of this film sounds like a great experiment, but ultimately drags and suffers, taking the audience with it.

I went into Boyhood with relatively high expectations. I am a big fan of the “coming of age” genre and I adore stories about children, in addition to my own admiration of Linklater’s divine Before trilogy. I was disappointed, and most of all, very bored. I didn’t feel engaged by any of the characters, and even when I did begin to gain interest in them (namely the mother and the sister), the narrative cut off, transitioning onto another year. It was really jarring experience, as just as we are given new development for these characters, a nostalgic song starts and we move on.

That being said, Patricia Arquette is beautiful as “Mom”. Just the name of her character makes me cringe (Why not give her a name? Mary? Judith? Barbara? I could go on!). She is, from the beginning of the film, such a strong character. She carries everyone and everything, transitioning into a woman without power in an abusive relationship. Even at the end of the movie when Mason has his graduation party before he leaves, “Mom” is given absolutely no closure. She is left, alone and sad in a brand new predicament. The filmmakers show all of the trauma that she is made to suffer, only to withhold a resolution to her story. Really a terrible way to treat a character that left a bad taste in my mouth.

This also makes me think about the other characters. As it is from the perspective of Mason, that he neglects and forgets about his own mother due to this fading away of characters. I was so confused at the end of this film. He’s sitting in the middle of the desert, taking pictures and I’m going “Really? This is what this entire thing has led to? Sitting in the desert with stoners and a hottie?” I literally can’t.

Boyhood is a demonstration of lazy filmmaking. It feels as though Linklater had this idea however many years ago and was like “let’s do this motherfuckkeeerrr”. It also feels like every year was written completely separately, opening up Myspace to research: “Righto. What are the cool kids up to nowadays?”. The film was so disjointed that I really don’t know how they got anyone to put money into it.

I am particularly mad because I really should have enjoyed Boyhood. Mason was born around the same time as me belonging to the same generation. And there are some things about this movie that I connect to. Some of the music, for example, brings me back to the early to mid naughties which tickles the old heartstrings. But this is easy to do. Put a good song over images of a garbage can and audiences will bring their own emotions to the plate.

(I just need to take a moment to heave an angry sigh)

Aaa-thankyou.

★★1/2

Ella

Birdman: Holy hell. This is filmmaking.

il_570xN.708500504_dz8u

Warning: This article contains (some) spoilers

Plot:

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), daughter (Emma Stone) and ex-wife (Amy Ryan).

Birdman is a powerhouse of amazing actors. Michael Keaton, Ed Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis just to name a few. And Alejandro G. Iñárritu directs them to perfection with a script that any actor would happily remove a limb for.

I saw this film twice. First as an avid cinema-goer, fully submerging myself into the world or Birdman, and second with a goal to attempt to deconstruct this highly complicated, visually astounding film. And I think I worked it out. Birdman is a construct of a series of pushes and breaks, all experienced by the central character Riggan Thomson. When we are introduced to Riggan, he is aptly using his mentally-acquired telekinesis and conversing with his daughter Sam. The camera follows him through this process whilst the drum soundtrack joins him. This is pre-break Riggan.

After about a few pushes (coming in the form mostly of Mike Shiner, budgeting, a pregnancy scare and more crazy actors), Riggan has his first break when his ex-wife Sylvia arrives, reminding him of the real world, including his troubled daughter Sam and highlighting the fact that he is spending all of his money to acquire some sort of validation from his audience, stating “you confuse love for admiration”. Riggan is forced to see himself from the perspective of someone who is not trying to feed his ego, simply trying to make him see himself with sanity.

The pushes after this first break come heavier and more frequently. Riggan sees acclaimed New York Times reviewer Tabitha Dickinson and watches as she is talked up by his co-star. He then has an encounter with his daughter who gives him another slap in the face in the form of the truth, which he is struggling to ignore “And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again.” Whoa. – I’ve got to interject and say that Emma Stone is fucking brilliant. – After this encounter, Riggan seems removed, and we have the chance to see the crazy of actors. It’s dizzying and electrifying.

And break two comes as the sun rises the next day. Riggan reads the article in The Times. The drums thunder and after the hilarious (floor) fight between Riggan and Mike, Birdman’s voice is back (“You were a movie star/You look like a turkey with leukaemia”) and Riggan wants to cancel the preview, but is delivered gratification by Jake at the opportunity to perform for a full house and “Martin Scor-sees”. One thing to note at this point in the film is that every ‘actor’ character in this film is never their true selves. They are ‘acting’ outside of the theatre, gaging reactions from people, and they need everyone else to be acting, too. They’re insane.

The final preview is on and Riggan experiences one of his final pushes, seeing Mike and Sam together. He goes for a smoke and is locked out. In his underwear. As he walks through Times Square people yell “Birdman” like echoes in his own subconscious. After this ordeal, Sam meet Riggan in his dressing room and we see an ingenuity in his eyes as he admits that “[He] was a shitty father”. This scene was the last chance Riggan had to save himself. It’s fleeting and it’s gone. He’s gone.

Back at the bar, Riggan confronts Ms. Dickinson about her article and profession. He almost begs for his life in this scene. But she curtly replies “I’m going to destroy your play”. And with those words, with that last push, Riggan Thomson is broken.

From this point, Birdman becomes a completely different film. Surrealism creeps in and we experience Riggan’s break alongside him. It’s truly beautiful. It’s opening night and Sylvia visits during the intermission. Riggan is finally calm. Completely removed, but completely himself. Honest. And it’s too late. And then BANG.

I won’t say what BANG means in case you haven’t seen the film, but everything that has happened is beautifully tied up by this BANG. We come to the realisation that not only the play is the performance, but so is life. With our obsession with celebrity and social media it’s all one big performance and one big audience.

And Riggan gets his perfect ending in super-realism, with a great big “Fuck you” from Birdman. He is what he wanted to be and his work is done.

Holy hell this movie was good. And I didn’t even mention that it was edited so the film played out in one singular shot. I could literally write about Birdman forever. It’s spectacular.

★★★★★

Ella

Hello world!

This is the first official FlickerThoughts post. Hello!

My name is Ella and I am an avid appreciator of Creative Media in it’s many forms.
On this blog, I will be discussing just that. Films, TV, Music, Games, Books and much more!

I will also be producing a podcast coming soon this Spring.

My first filmic post will be some articles that I wrote earlier in the year regarding the Academy Awards. Just a taste of what’s to come.

I hope you enjoy.
Ella

11222815_10153447021565750_4918586580631322279_n