Tuesday, 25 July 2017

What I've Been Watching #2

Lately I've been watching a lot of films and basically trying to catch up on all the DVDs I purchased over the course of my second year at uni in those small moments of panic or stress where I impulsively did an Amazon order or seven. I've also been logging everything I've been watching on Letterboxd, which is basically the Goodreads for films - give me a follow to keep up with my watching if you fancy it! Today I thought I'd share my very inexpert opinion on the last few films I've watched, because whenever I watch something I have so many thoughts and feelings about it immediately afterwards and rarely anyone to discuss it with. Just a note to say this will probably contain spoilers...

The Falling (2014)
This film is so eerie and beautiful, but incredibly dark and disturbing at the same time. It was very subtle with a slow pace and the kind of thing you wouldn't be able to appreciate if you were only half-watching it or on your phone (which, by the way, is one of my absolute pet peeves). It's about a girl called Lydia (played by Maisie Williams) whose best friend begins to suffer from fainting spells and eventually dies as a result of one - after her funeral Lydia begins to suffer from them herself, and the rest of the school slowly follow suit as the school try to work out the cause of the spells. The story also focuses on the difficult relationship between Lydia and her agoraphobic mother. Essentially this film is all about female friendships and relationships and unexplained phenomena, with strong undertones of the supernatural and nods to the medical treatment of women in previous eras. It reminded me of The Virgin Suicides and The Moth Diaries, two movies I also love, but with significantly less dialogue and slightly less death. I loved the setting of 1960s England, and especially of the girls school - I always love books and films that are set in schools, which is kind of strange as I don't even go to school any more but probably says something about an attachment to childhood or whatever. However, I found myself getting a little frustrated with the lack of clarity in the storyline - what was the actual cause of the fainting? How was it spreading among the girls? But while the logical part of my brain was demanding answers, I'm also trying to learn to appreciate a certain ambiguity in books and films, as of course it encourages the spectator or the reader to reflect on art and draw their own conclusions.

Rating: 7/10

Pulp Fiction (1994)
I've been meaning to watch this for the longest time - in my mind it's one of those classic films that people reference all the time and has had a huge impact on pop culture. I'm not familiar with Tarantino by any means but I knew roughly what to expect, which is what I got - strong language, violence and black comedy. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was nuts and horrific at times but in a weird way I actually loved it! The story is about a circle of mobsters and criminals in Los Angeles and their escapades which are slowly revealed to be interlinked. I have to admit that the chronology of the storyline confused me a lot and meant I ended up googling the plot to try to understand what was going on - it's kind of like a patchwork of stories which eventually come together in an intriguing and enjoyable way.

Rating: 8/10

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
One of my favourite films of all time is Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel so I expected to like this and I wasn't disappointed. It follows the lives of the Tenenbaum family and especially the three siblings who were viewed as geniuses in childhood but who experience disappointment later in life as their family breaks down. I felt it was a slight case of style over substance in that the plot was quite thin and predictable, but the characterisation and back stories are where this film really shines and I really enjoyed seeing the characters interact with each other. The other area where this film stuns is of course in the visual style, which is trademark Anderson with the beautiful colours and soft tones - basically the aesthetic of dreams.

Rating: 8/10

Mulholland Drive (2001)
It's no secret that I am deeply, deeply obsessed with Twin Peaks so lately I've been trying to explore David Lynch's other works. I hear that the original 90s Peaks isn't really a true representation of Lynch's style and art, which is more accurately reflected in the new series which I've watched the first 8 or so episodes of (and shall discuss in different post when I get home and can watch the rest!). Anyway, I have a box set of Lynch's his films to get through this summer, but I started with Mulholland Drive which was right up my alley. It's described as a 'neo-noir mystery' and tells the story of an aspiring actress who meets an amnesiac woman in Los Angeles, following their separate but interlinked quests to achieve fame and rediscover her identity. Although the film is set in Hollywood it takes place firmly within the realm of the absurd, with a plot that switches between seemingly unrelated vignettes interspersed with mild horror and dark comedy. This film was originally conceived as a TV pilot, but rejected and reimagined as a feature film which gives it an odd sort of narrative which leaves it completely open to interpretation. As a first venture into Lynch's film work, I was pleasantly surprised and appreciated the early 2000s aesthetic,

Rating: 9/10

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
This is another Wes Anderson film, which follows three estranged brothers who are reuniting for the first time since their father's funeral a year previously. They meet aboard the Darjeeling Limited, a train crossing the Indian countryside, and the film follows the events which occur to test their complicated and often conflicting relationships. I think there's something so charming about films, TV shows or books set on trains - which perhaps stems from reading Murder on the Orient Express at a young age. However, this was on the disappointing side for me - I think it suffered from the lack of a female lead somehow, but apart from that I can't put my finger on it. Having said that, the cinematography was stunning and I did enjoy watching it. 

Rating: 6/10

The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-)
A few months ago I noticed my mum had the first two seasons of The X-Files on DVD and decided to take them with me to uni for the summer term on the inkling that they would be my New Favourite Thing. What with exams I didn't get round to watching any, so I brought them with me on my internship and I'm slowly making my way through them. Basically it's a science fiction drama that follows the investigations of Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as they look into unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. My mum was obsessed with the series when it originally aired and over 20 years on I am following firmly in her footsteps - I love everything about this series so far and I'm not even at the end of the first season! I adore the 90s setting, the characters, the unexplained paranormal aspect, and anything to do with the FBI (Twin Peaks, anyone?). There are just so many episodes and seasons to get through I absolutely cannot wait to see how the series goes on, not to mention the fact that its currently undergoing a revival.

Rating: literally 12/10


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