Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Bait (3D)

Bait-3D

Bait

Australia. 2012. Kimble Rendall.

This B-movie has the classic elements of a genre film in which humans are the prey (bait) to two great white sharks. Despite awful acting, CGI (the sharks look hilarious) and the outrageously farfetched scenario of this movie, it still serves up a few laughs and thrills for the taking.

There is a great tsunami, it floods a supermarket and an underground car park bringing with it an array of sea creatures, including the two great whites; one roams the aisles whilst the other hangs out in parking lot. The acting is generally bad, but their characters and the scenario don’t give them much of a chance. There are a few unresolved relationships to boil our interest, but frankly we don’t give a toss and are more excited about who will be the next bit of bait for our friendly giants.

Impressive cinematography and production design lift this movie above its garbage package. And, the imbecilic characters and plenteous shark munching do provide enough entertainment to keep you engaged.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.

Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Don’t Look Now

Don-t-Look-Now

Don’t Look Now

UK. 1973. Nicolas Roeg.

This film leaves a scar deep beneath the surface; Roeg renders the subconscious state of the cinematic with absolute accomplishment.

This psychic thriller is about a man’s (John Baxter) overwhelming grief for the death of his daughter and the feelings of guilt that supersede it. John vacates to Venice with his wife Laura to direct the reconstruction of a local church. There is a fine line between the symbolism of religion and death, as the church serves for plenty of John’s deranged fear of guilt and entrapment. Further signs draw links between various characters that implement the most unsettling outcomes. The film builds itself up to a chilling climax that resonates amidst our conscious minds and filters through to the subconscious.

The cinematography is essential to filling each frame with dread and creating each magnificently threatening composition. Venice looks ice cold and bleak and represents the maze that John’s mind is trying to map. The narrow alleys, identical bridges and claustrophobic buildings all transmit John’s confusion and mounting anxiety. It’s hard to imagine the film being shot anywhere else.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.

Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: The Human Centipede

The-Human-Centipede

The Human Centipede: First Sequence

Netherlands. 2009. Tom Six.

Whenever I reflect on this movie, I feel my inside organs coil and wretch. It truly is sick. Yet what continues to amaze me is Tom Six’s audacious ability to bring his utterly perverted idea to life with such a powerful execution.

Not for one moment does this film strike a vocal cord for laughter (often an easy escape route for horror), instead I remained engrossed inside the world of The Human Centipede. This is respectably due to Dieter Laser’s harrowingly impressive performance as the mad and clearly off-color scientist who speaks like a Nazi. He revels at his operational work in an introverted manner under his umbrella of sheer perversity.

Can such a film appeal to anyone other than exploitative midnight horror freaks? I believe anyone who is brave enough to turn up or press play will be locked in for the sick ride. But, how can one possibly accredit such a film? It may pull many outside their comfort zone, but it beckons an achievement in emphatically opening up the dark artistic soul of its director.

 

The Human Centipede: Full Sequence

Netherlands. 2011. Tom Six.

If there ever was a way to make a sequel unique and truly perverted, this is the one. I was inevitably left completely grossed out, but still intrigued by the clever concept this film toys with.

Fat and troubled loner Martin (Lawrence R. Harvey) is obsessed by the movie (the First Sequence). It ignites a drive and dream deep down amidst his black and warped soul to create his own 12-person centipede – overshadowing the great German scientist (his icon) by times four. Almost without any hesitation, Martin begins to collect his victims, bashing them over the head with a wrench, and realise his sick fantasy as it transcends unnervingly into his own reality.

What follows is enough masochism and wounds to the head to enflame the greatest of ‘shock’ cinema fans. Shot in black and white (actually looking quite nice), the blood isn’t so repulsing rather it is Martin’s true sense of perverted pleasure and vile domesticity that unearths the skin.

It is a fine piece of exploitation cinema, but perhaps give it a miss if you found the First Sequence too much.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.

Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Eden Lake

Eden-Lake

Eden Lake

UK. 2008. James Watkins.

What makes this film so provocative and thrilling is simply because it is believable. Not much is more sincerely disturbing than a group of hooligan kids with nothing else to do than chase around tourists with knives. The concept may sound futile, but the film is excellently constructed (the acting and direction hit all the notes exactly on the mark) and one confrontation drifts effectively into another.

But they are just kids! Exactly. If you defend yourself against an aggressive kid you are bound to be charged with more than the aggressor (let alone feelings of guilt). Otherwise, we can assume Michael Fassbender (on a weekend vacation with his fiancé to be) would have ended the show long before it kicked off. Yet, what is even more frightening, is the gang leaders immortal and destructive influence on his peers. Peer pressure just turned real nasty.

A good horror film doesn’t just need to be filled with gore or atmospheric effects; it needs to deliver a fundamentally disturbing message about the repression of our society. You can be assured that Eden Lake will do just that.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.

Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks-of-being-a-Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

US. 2012. Stephen Chbosky.

A first glance this film appears to fall under the not so well regarded bracket of an adolescent high-school movie. But, it becomes so much more than this. Yes, there is sex, drugs, parties and loud music, but these are all necessary steps in the life of our introvert protagonist whose most sacred lesson is on friendship, love and hope.

Fundamentally, it is this characters tremendous journey that is so special. Logan Lerman, who gives a terrific performance, plays the sensitive and reticent freshman. He finds out who he really is, unlike the overtly popular high school kids, and learns to accept himself.

The rest of the casting is also perfectly in sync. Our freshman meets two non-conformist older kids who befriend him and rescue him from a layer of his deep insecurity and depression beckoned from a past tragedy. These two are played by Ezra Miller and Emma Watson who meld a complex trait of characteristics.

There are many more spells and charms in this movie, and despite it being centered on high-schoolers, it is certainly fun for all the family with more meaning than one.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.

Short Reflections from the Silver Screen – Song for Marion

Song-For-Marion

UK, 2012. Directed by Paul Andrew Williams

Terence Stamp plays a grumpy old man who is struggling to come to terms with his long-term partners illness. Vanessa Redgrave plays his charming partner who has been diagnosed with cancer, but she still makes a great effort to go and sing with her quirky choir, all are of a similar age and have their own ingenuity about them.

One can easily guess what emotions to expect from such a story, but Paul Andrew Williams digs deeper and gives a heartfelt soul to his characters. This is balanced with moments of light humour to give the audience a smile even though there may simultaneously be tears running down their cheeks.

After Redgrave, somewhat unpredictably, passes away only half-way through the film, the story focuses all its attention onto Stamp’s character as he overcomes mourning and battles to open his arms up to what’s left of life.

Though some moments felt needless and Stamp’s character overtly irritable, the film explores some very deep emotions and shines forth how important love is to the meaning of life.

 

*All reflections are from my film journal.