Sunday, 13 October 2013

What I've Been Watching: Part 1

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Stoker (2013)
Directed by Chan-wook Park

"After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him." -imdb

I honestly did not know what to expect from this film. It is Chan-wook Park(whom we all know as the director of Oldboy)'s first English Language film. The posters and trailers gave very little away about the plot, which could possibly be because the film's plot was very understated. It didn't quite unravel the way I would have expected it to. As in, it didn't follow traditional Hollywood conventions; something I find very refreshing. 

The character's emotions were played out through quirky, gothic cinematography, without the need for a heavy script. I felt challenged in trying to keep up with the character's ulterior motives. And while I like a challenge, there were times where I felt that things could have been a bit clearer.

I didn't know quite what to make of this film at first. It was stylish and unconventional, but at times, a little hard to decipher. That being said, I did really enjoy it. It was styled incredibly well, and I want to live in their house and wear all their clothes. It was something different and I would recommenced it.

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Maniac (2012)
Directed by Franck Khalfoun

"As he helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, the owner of a mannequin shop's deadly, suppressed desires come to the surface." - imdb

A remake of an old film, Maniac is a modern horror. Elijah Wood plays Frank, a tourtured young man, clearly scarred by his childhood, who hunts down and kills women. I was first struck by the the way it was shot; entirely from the main character's perspective. Every now and then, you would get shots of his pale, terrified face in mirrors and windows. 

The plot wasn't particularly innovative. However what was truly scary about it was that it was something anyone could fall victim to. Frank hunts down his victims on the street and on the internet and just follows them home. I can tell you, it make me never want to go out on my own at night. It was perfectly cast, as Wood captured the manic despair that Frank feels. He hates what he does, but cannot stop himself, and you end up feeling very sorry for him. Feeling sorry for a homicidal maniac is not something any actor can make you do.

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Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
Directed by Panos Cosmatos

"Despite being under heavy sedation, Elena tries to make her way out of Arboria, a secluded, quasi-futuristic commune." - imdb

Psychedelic, psychological science fiction; a winning combination for me. This film was never released in UK, so Charlotte bit the bullet and imported a copy from the states. I had never heard of this film before, and I can understand why. It isn't exactly a standard film. It was very long, and a real challenge to watch. 

The story focuses on the themes of suppression, control and euphoria in our society, and it made me have a long, hard think about the future. You were never out rightly told what was going on, or when and where it was set, but I think it was safe to say it was set in the future. The rest is up to your own interpretation.

There was very little action in this film. The main focus was on the visuals, which were absolutely stunning. The sets were minimalist, and the majority of it was set indoors. It felt like an endless maze of light rooms. It was hypnotic and you felt like you were in a trance throughout the whole film. It was a challenge, but I really liked it.

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