Oblivion

 

Oblivion

The End of the World Never Looked so Beautiful

Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is a beautiful film. The films view on nature is inspiring. The landscapes depicted, as desolate as they may seem, only highlight the power, scale and beauty of the earth. The last Sci-Fi that I saw of this magnitude was Prometheus and although that also looked fantastic it failed to deliver in terms of narrative. So the question is, how does Oblivion?

The film has a number of twists and turns, a few of which are apparent in the trailer(!). I would say all of the twists bar perhaps one, are rather predictable. However this still doesn’t prevent my enjoyment of the film. The jist is this. Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) live on a destroyed earth, after a war with an unknown species called ‘Scavs’ leaves the planet and moon in ruins the remaining population of earth has moved to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Jack and Julia are assigned as the mop up squad on earth, maintaining robots that work to protect a large structure that absorbs energy from the ocean in order to provide that energy for the colonies of Titan. Jack begins to question his position in the role he has undertaken and shortly discovers that all is not as it seems.

The overall story arc of the film seems to have been done time and time again however there are smaller plot elements that make this story much more interesting. Its intertwining of twists often overlap each other making, at times, more questions arise. I read in an article that said it seems Kosinski presumes that the audience know as much about the narrative as he does making the story hard to follow and difficult to understand. I think this is rubbish. The film doesn’t spoon feed its audience and never directly tells the audience what they are supposed to understand through the visuals but for me this is great. It often makes you question your theories of what seems like a straight forward narrative. This is what I enjoyed about the film, although the narrative was predictable, Kosinski has thrown curve balls at the audience to deter them from what they think is happening.

The film most certainly looks amazing. It’s as though every shot is a money shot and is a prime example of how the often over used method of CGI can create superb and exhilarating settings for a film. There was never a moment when I questioned the landscape of the film, which in a Sci-Fi is integral. The costume and set design were both astounding although Jacks gun did remind me of the old SNES Super Scope and the soundtrack was emotional and exciting.

Oblivion is not a perfect film and I don’t think it will be for everyone, but it’s a great Sunday night watch, in a dark room with those speakers turned right up.

Dave

Twitter: @DavidSAdamson

Advertisements

Trance (Spoilers)

trance111215


It’s been a couple of days now since I saw Trance (Dir. D. Boyle), and it’s grown on me. At first, the films glossy, abrupt and impersonal textures lead to a feeling of being unattached to the story. However, the complex plot, with its many twists and turns, lead the film through its plastic, TV-movie-esque facade and deliver it into a clever and believable (but not totally surprising) twist ending.

The plot reflects the style in which Trance has been filmed; it is unbelievable and at some point, ridiculous. The narration direct to camera at the start of the film from Simon, gives a feeling that we are about to watch a feature episode of the BBC’s Hustle. Together with the fact that a group of hardened criminals would allow a psychiatrist (Elizabeth, played by Rosario Dawson) to take up partnership with them is absurd. These two elements make the film feel childish from the start; they appear as a naive attempt to move the plot forward for the purpose of the twist at the end.

But if you allow yourself to go along with the illogical plot, you will be rewarded with a fast-paced and treacherous journey leading to an explosive ending.

If you want to watch a similar take on ‘reality vs illusion’ style film, check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Dir. M. Gondry) and of course the fantastic Inception (Dir. C. Nolan).

 

Ben

 

Julien Donkey-Boy

juliensevigny2

When presented with a Dogme 95 certificate at the beginning of a film, you know you are in store for an epileptic journey, both visually and narratively. And Julien Donkey-Boy does not fail to deliver. An alarming story that delves into the darkness of a disordered family, living in a nameless neighbourhood, schizophrenic Julien happily glides along, naively accepting his father’s brutality and his siblings underlying mental illnesses.

The visual style for the film (mostly following the rules of the Dogme 95 movement) is essential in the aid of telling the story. The frantic camera manoeuvres and and the use of natural lighting throw you into the berserk mind of Julien. In his house, the camera moves sharply to reflect the families broken state, whilst the scenes with Julien and his blind friends resemble its calming and benign nature, the camera adopts a less agitated disposition.

The proximity in which the camera can reach the characters during ferocious scenes supports in intensifying them, such as the scene where Julien is being told by his father to ‘slap his own face, then maybe he’ll wake up’. The handheld camera technique moves like the point of view of another character, and throwing the audience into the brutal situation.

The character performance’s are just as essential and tantalising. The film brings together Werner Herzog, Ewen Bremmer and Chlöe Sevigny, who’s realistic performances push the characters to their limits. Herzog, who plays the families father, is a man who craves an almost fascist sense of order. It is this order that you could blame is the families misfortune. Even though Julien (Bremmer) has a mental illness, his sister and brother are both equally as corrupt. She (Sevigny) is having a baby by her brother Julien. She seems sound of mind, despite the fact that she is having a child by incest; it is more of an absolute attack against the father’s dictatorial sense of control.

In a strange sense, Julien is the most free. His disability gives him the ability to socialise and to act outside the bounds of his father’s control. His friends are blind, and all of them live relatively free and happy lives (even, for example, when they talk about death), compared to that of Julien’s family.

If you are a fan of Dogme 95, then you should definitely check out Julien Donkey-boy. This is dittoed if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned actors, as their performances are fascinating.

Ben

Django Unchained (Spoilers)

‘Django Unchained’ is quintessential Quentin Tarantino. In his typical fashion he bursts open chests and spews out guts, whilst maintaing a conventional and (what I would describe as) an overly simplistic narrative. This may sound like the key ingredients for a classic B-Movie, and, it is, but as Tarantino has shown time and time again, he can pull it off.

‘Django Unchained’  accompanied by its Academy Award winning director, has a fantastic array of actors, Christopher Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio, just to name the leads. Most notable in this beautifully explicit film is Waltz, playing a German bounty hunter by the name of ‘Dr. King Schultz’ (which has lead to him to be nominated for an Oscar). Schultz, quick witted and eloquent, captures the audiences attention from the start with his mysterious and humorous persona; he is immediately ‘likeable’.

Django (the D is silent), played by Foxx, does not have the most complex character to play in the film, yet is able to show his versatility as an actor. Django moves from being a broken and crippled slave, to a free man engulfed by the determination to free his wife from the ironically named ‘Candie Land’. It is not until Schultz’s death and Django is on his way to the ‘LeQuint Dicky Mining Co.’ that we really see him personify the myth that Schultz recites earlier in the film.

The introduction of DiCaprio welcomes the beginning of the final chapter in the movie. His character, Calvin Candie (owner of ‘Candie Land), is despicable, even though he holds the same talent for romantic language as Schultz. They are both parallel and contrasted at the same time. This element causes the upmost friction between the two; they put on an act when they first meet and at the dinner table, both of them pulling facades to get what they want (Candie wants money and Schultz wants Django’s wife’s freedom). Their relationship is interesting from start to finish. Even after Candie forces Schultz to pay $12,000 for Django’s wife and her freedom, it seems as though the trio are free. It is only when Schultz’s and Candie’s personalities colide together that Django and his wife are really thrown in the deep end.

To top the film off, the introduction of Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s head servant, Stephen,  encapsulates all the comedic and yet highly serious points that the film makes. He is a black man, yet constantly pokes fun at the other black people at Candie land and it adds a fantastic level of comedy to the film through a serious issue.

The film can be seen as a critique of many issues, but mostly of America’s prehistoric views on race and equality. By introducing a German as deuteragonist is a clear showing of the advancement of European thinking; Schultz not only hates the slave trade, but who is (until he trains Django) the only one who can bring American criminals to justice. For example, the whole town of Daughtery do not even know that their own elected man of law, the town sheriff, is a fugitive. It is Schultz, a German, who is aware of the sheriff’s identity. The point is reiterated again as a clan raid is humiliated by not being able to see through their hoods. They are rendered ‘blind’, and their blindness gets them killed. Who by? The European and the black man.

Away from any allegories, the film is fantastic and highly recommended to any Tarantino fan, and anyone who enjoys comedy, action, blood and guts and fantastic acting all in one film.

 

WATCH IT