Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘ Pulp Fiction ’

The Future of the Movie House

3D-pics-come-out-3d-28819473-1237-760The last few years have seen huge developments in the world of film. We have had the rise of 3D, the growth of IMAX and my local cinema has recently gotten slightly more comfortable seating. The Mayans believed that 2012 would be a time of change and development for humanity. As such the year 2012 should be seen as a time to look to what the future holds. On the other hand there are those who have interpreted the Mayan’s failure to produce an infinite calendar as evidence that civilization will collapse in on itself like an origami bird in a bath tub in just a few days. I, however, am an optimist so I am going to look at some of the ways that the world of film could change for the better in the next few years.

With the success of the film Avatar (Cameron, 2009) the use of 3D in films has raised exponentially in the last few years. There is something about the darkened images and the fact that we can now see beyond reasonable doubt that events in films occur on a three dimensional plane and not in some bizarre Mario-esque world where people can only move from side to side and not forwards and backwards that really seems to appeal to the cinema- going public. But the question has to be asked, where do we go after 3D? The answer can be found in visionary filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s recent masterpiece, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011). With this film Rodriguez managed to show the world that rather than the fourth dimension being an area of space it is, in fact, smell. With the success of Spy Kids 4 it’s obvious that the use of smell-o-vision is just going to skyrocket but I ask, why stop there? Why not allow films to convey every single sense a human being can experience. Except for touch. People get shot in films. That would be unpleasant to experience. But taste; now that’s something that can only add to our viewing experience. How can we truly understand the movie Pulp Fiction without knowing just how tasty a Big Kahuna Burger is? That’s the real future of cinema: Taste-o-vision!

If the last 20 years have shown us anything it’s that if film audiences are unhappy with the ending of a film they are more than willing to go out and completely change it themselves. Just look at esteemed actor Topher Grace’s recent attempts to recut the prequel trilogy of Star Wars into one single, coherent, Jar-Jar-less film, or the fan cut of Highlander 2  that removed every single mention of aliens despite them being an important plot point. Completely changing someone else’s artistic vision takes a lot of time, however, and this time is clearly very precious to the people who re-edit other people’s films. Why not cut out the middle-man altogether and just have audience choose their own ending for a film as they watch it. That way everyone is satisfied with the end product and in the end is that not the most important thing when it comes to making films? Who cares about artistic integrity when we can just pump a satisfying gruel directly into the mouths of a mass audience?

This last possible development is, admittedly, the least likely of the three and is more of a pipe-dream to be quite honest: reasonable prices for tickets and food at the cinema. I know it sounds crazy but is it really such an unreasonable demand to not have to pay three euro for a bottle of water after having paid ten quid for a ticket to Ice Age 5: Space Age? I know it will probably never change, but a man can dream, right?

If the Mayans were right then hopefully we’ll be seeing these developments in film in the next few years. And if the people who post on internet forums are right and the world does end on Friday? Well I hope you’re as prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse as I am.

-David O’Neill

Advertisements

Seven Psychopaths

Seven-PsychopathsNot since 2010’s “The Guard” have I had this much fun in the cinema. Martin McDonagh returns to the screen with his first film since 2008’s “In Bruges”, also starring Colin Farrell as a hit-man laying low in Bruges with Brendan Gleeson. His latest film certainly equals the standards raised at the last toll; it’s a bloody, violent, stylish and absolutely hilarious film pitting some fine talents such as Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson together in a brutal game of cat-in-mouse in a style echoing the dark humour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and the sharp, witty dialogue of Tarantino’s masterpiece “Pulp Fiction”.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is an Irish writer living in LA struggling to start his new screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths”. He hasn’t even got beyond “Psychopath No. 1” and already his drinking problem is spiralling out of control. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is a slightly unhinged and failed actor who makes a living from kidnapping dogs and sending his partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) to the owner’s house to retrieve the money in award for ‘finding’ their beloved pet. Billy tries to help Marty by placing an ad in the newspaper calling on all psychopaths to come to Marty’s house to be interviewed for the chance of their story appearing in his screenplay. But it soon becomes apparent that Marty will not need to rely on the ad to bring the psychopaths in, because when Billy and Hans kidnap the Shih Tzu belonging to a sadistic gangster (Woody Harrelson) and Marty gets sucked into the mess, by the end of it all – if he is still alive that is – he’ll have one hell of a story to write.

“In Bruges” was pretty successful when it was released back in 2008, and “Seven Psychopaths” serves to be the long-awaited follow-up to that film from Martin McDonagh. While I’m undecided on which is the better film, “Seven Psychopaths” certainly lives up to the lofty standards set by “In Bruges” in terms of humour, sharp and witty dialogue and pure mayhem. Sam Rockwell (“The Green Mile”, “Choke”) is arguably the star of the film. His extroverted performance as the unhinged Billy is very enjoyable to watch; it’s a well composed and characteristic. Colin Farrell (“Tigerland”, “In Bruges”) looks somewhat lost at times, but it’s fitting for his character – an alcoholic writer with writer’s block. Rockwell’s Irish jokes and impersonation were surprisingly very good, unlike the vast majority of the kicks Hollywood tries to make at the Irish culture and accent. Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”, “Biloxi Blues”) has always stolen the show, and it’s no exception here. His character Hans, is very interesting, and Walken proves he was the perfect man to cast in this role. Woody Harrelson is personally one of my all-time favourite actors, if for nothing more than his psychotic look and domineering presence on screen. Ever since his lead role in the amazing “Natural Born Killers”, Harrelson has set his own standards and met them ever since. He’s superb in this film. Very funny and completely psychotic. The dialogue, brutal dark humour and witty one-liners have to be the best thing about the film alongside the exceptional performances from a superbly assembled cast (Which also includes singer Tom Waits).

“Seven Psychopaths” is one of the best films of 2012. The criss-crossing storyline imitates the best of Tarantino and has a very strong odour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, which McDonagh’s latest effort is slightly better than in my opinion. An absolutely enjoyable film that literally cuts your throat while you’re laughing; the violence is gorgeously bloody at times – stylized yet realistic. Hopefully McDonagh comes out in the next round with an equally superb, if not better, film.

– Joe Callan

The Irish Film Industry Needs an Injection of Fresh Enthusiasm

There can be little doubt about it that when compared to our British neighbours, our film industry is pretty far down the pecking order. Ireland as a nation has traditionally been renowned for the arts over the decades, particularly with the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Bram Stoker hailing from these shores. But when it comes to the film industry, we are inconsistent and somewhat incompetent.

Roddy Doyle’s “The Commitments”, released in 1990, certainly put us on the map as the film was a hit over in the States. And for a while, it was looking good for us. “The Commitments” shattered any foreign delusion that Ireland was a place full of beautiful valleys, white horses, cottages and fighting leprechauns. Abandoning us in the dark-heart of recession-crippled 80’s Dublin, and riddling us with a dose of Doyle’s realism and dark comedy, the film was an instant success and gained world-wide attention for show-casting some of the most poverty-striken areas of Dublin at the time in all their bitter glory. Doyle penned two sequels to complete what would become known as “The Barrytown Trilogy”, and they were adapted into lesser sequels which proved to be successful at home, but abroad, they are virtually unheard of. And this is partially 20th Century Fox’s fault, as they owned the rights to “The Commitments”, which also meant that the family name Rabbitte was subject to copy-right. Subsequently, in the low-budget sequels, the family had only two children in “The Van” but were back to it’s full-house in “The Snapper”. Oh, and to make it all the more confusing, only one character maintained their role through all three films, and that was Colm Meaney as Jimmy Snr in “The Commitments” and “The Snapper”, but as Dessie Curley in “The Van”. Naturally, this generated a certain feeling of alienation with the films in regards to connection. However, the lesser-known sequels are equally as good as their triumphant older brother “The Commitments” who had cast an immense and oppressive shadow over them.

With the right funding, and the right minds, I sincerely hope that this country continues to produce the talent and films that we all know it’s capable of. We are a distinctive people on the frontier of Europe; the first-stop for the US on the way to this continent. So instead of losing our talented actors and directors to Britain and the US, the Irish film industry will hopefully receive a hefty dose of fresh enthusiasm with new young minds of this generation. With this in mind, I’d like to draw attention to a low-budget and unheard of film made back in 1998 called “Crush Proof”.

Now, it’s a pretty bad film, however, what I want to highlight here is what the film makers were trying to do, and how they almost managed to pull it off. In this brutal urban drama, 18 year-old Neal gets released from Mount Joy prison after spending a year behind bars. He heads to his girlfriend’s flat to see the baby boy he hasn’t held yet, and when she doesn’t let him in, he attempts to break the door down and she calls the Guards. Neal’s not even out half an hour and already it looks like he could be going back in, and when he robs a mobile phone, he only makes things worse. He rejoins his gang of horse-loving misfits and thugs and after killing the drug dealer who ratted him out and got him locked up, the gang goes into hiding in the Wicklow mountains where they’ll confront the situation, and themselves, head-on. It’s a very grim and realistic depiction of modern-day Ireland. However, the dialogue is surprisingly bland and the script has plot-holes the size of the Grand Canyon. The editing gives off the impression that no care was taken in the editing room and the scenes were all just mashed together in parts. But at the heart of it all, we have some very rough, and realistic performances. Darren Healy – where did he ever go? – is superb as Neal. It’s such an anger-driven performance. He’s the epitome of adolescent angst, social isolation, and essentially a sad testimony as to when people generally get stuck in a rut, so to speak, many just continue to spiral downwards towards self-destruction. The title is derived from a speech made by Neal in the pub when he describes the North-Side Dubliners as the original breed and ‘Crush Proof’.

We are a nation socially built on verbal abuse and banter, and this generally rings through in many of the dark comedies that have hailed from here in the past ten years. “Intermission” and “The Guard” are two fine examples of brilliant modern Irish film making. “Intermission” exhibited some of the finest Irish acting talent available in 2003, with Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney and Colin Farrell in lead roles. It was a charismatic and pulsating directorial debut from John Crowley, who was genius in his employment of Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” tactics as we have a motley crew of characters in the film portraying their lives and the events which shape them, and subsequently interlinks them with the other characters. We have a corrupt cop, a violent scumbag, two losers who work in a supermarket, a pessimistic young lady with a moustache, a bank manager who has left his wife for a younger woman, and his aforementioned wife in search of a bit of excitement following him abandoning her. “Intermission” is a sharp, honest and inglorious look at Irish culture, and the characters that exist in every society. It’s a fast-paced film; very brutal and absolutely hilarious.

“Intermission” was probably the best dark comedy Ireland had to offer until “The Guard” in 2011. Brendan Gleeson – who was a teacher before picking up acting in his thirties – plays a corrupt, acid-licking, pessimistic, whore-loving, overweight and crude Guard living in the immense wilderness of Connemara, Co. Galway. Don Cheadle stars as the FBI agent sent to Ireland to instruct the authorities on a suspected international drug-ring operating from within Connemara. Unfortunately for him, he is paired up with Gleeson in a poor man’s “Lethal Weapon”. We’ve had our share of horror films as well – and pretty bizarre and unique ones at that. “Isolation” (2005) set on a rural Wexford farm, was as gruesome as it was welcoming. And 2008’s “Shrooms” set in the Wicklow Mountains was pretty good too.

Despite these examples – there are many more, of course, but hopefully I’ve named some of the best – there does indeed appear to be a certain lack of consistency and drive within the Irish film industry at the moment. Films that are made on these shores tend to have little, if any, major publicity. Irish film makers need to be concentrating on low-budget productions, in my opinion. And I say this in regard to the indie boom in the US during the 1990’s. A pandemic that continues to this day, in which many cult favourites today are destined to be classic-status in a few decades time. Irish film-makers need to be aiming for this.

Advertisements
Advertisements