Five films that are rocking my world right now. (Actually, four films and a game... but nobody’s perfect).
Sanjuro – It really doesn’t matter how many times I watch this film, or the fact that I do have to rely on subtitles, because I don’t speak sufficient Japanese to make sense of the subtleties of dialogue; Akira Kurosawa rocks. Toshiro Mifune does more with expression and body language in this film than most Western actors achieve in a lifetime. And then you have the one against eight battle. They actually teach this in books on Kendo, Mifune’s form and movement is like a ballet. A beautiful, brutal ballet. Yet there is nothing gratuitous or creepy about this, no long lingering shots of dismembered corpses. Just a melancholic genius. By the time a karate master has risen to the level of master, through long and hard training, he may be capable of killing with his bare hands, but has also attained the self-discipline not to go postal and kill indiscriminately; so it is here, nothing gratuitous, no violence for violence’ sake, just pure swordsmanship.
Alien – FilmFour was doing an Alien weekend a couple of weekends back, and I tuned in. I have the box set. I fell in love with the movie when I slithered into the cinema to see it despite being underage. The tension, the claustrophobia and the creature. Especially the creature. I first discovered Giger in 1976, and his stuff was a revelation. I was quite an odd child, who found Goya fascinating, all dark, brooding and very intense, so Giger’s work plugged into that intense side of my nature instantly. Even today, my three favourite artists are Goya, Giger and the Spanish Surrealist, Salvador Dali. Add to that the complexity and construction of Escher’s work and you have a sense of what goes through my strange brain.
Dhoom 2 – okay, you’ve probably read the criticisms, you are probably thinking of this as simply silly, glossy fare... but... honestly, it has heart and charm. The set pieces are huge and wildly over the top, clearly the cast had a ball making it. Hrithik steals every scene he’s in. The songs are fun and advance the action nicely. So what’s not to like? At three o’clock in the morning when my brain is going a mile a minute and I cannot sleep it’s the perfect kick back movie.
Pig – okay I have an unfair advantage here, I’ve seen the film even though it was not yet finished, and my version is a rough cut. I could wax rhapsodically on lots of elements that add up to a completely satisfying, and emotionally engaging story. It is a thoroughly modern, twenty-first century tale, but retains a genetic blueprint of film story-telling that we last saw in the Noirs of the forties and fifties. It unfolds slowly, building in intensity as the man seeks clues to his past, and it isn’t an easy journey. Nothing is what it appears to be. Written and directed by Henry Barrial, the script asks questions of the audience that certainly, for me at any rate, made me start to re-examine the way I look at memory and identity.
With any movie it is rare for me to look and not re-cast in my head. There are a few notable exceptions, Casablanca is one... could you really see any one but Bogart and Bergman in those roles? So it is with Pig. The cast are just pitch perfect. Special mention has to go to Rudolf Martin, after all, he is the man; lost, confused, scared, finding out things about himself that he doesn’t necessarily like. And none of it really fits. So who’s lying to him? It would be easy to overplay this role, Martin keeps it simple and utterly convincing. The emotional payoff at the end is incredible.