Tag Archives: Movies

Spotlight: The Virgin Suicides [1999]

With the 15th being just a few short hours away, I am now fast approaching the peak of my low.  In case anyone out there is wondering exactly what the mysterious 15th I keep mentioning is – well, dear readers, I just wanna say, happy birthday to me…

And now, with that nonsense out of the way, as promised, it is time for the forth and final spotlight in my series of haunting melancholic films.

Tonight the old spotlight is shining brightly on the 1999 classic, The Virgin Suicides.

Based on a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, this film adaptation was produced by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, and it marks the writing and directorial debut of his daughter Sofia Coppola.

Featuring a full rich cast consisting of the likes of James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett, and with a rich hypnotic original score that was produced, composed and performed by the French duo Air – this film tells the story of five young sisters, with the plot focusing on the aftermath that ensue after the youngest of the five attempted suicide at the beginning of the film.

With the themes of love, isolation, death and suicide focused heavily throughout, out of all the spotlights I have done thus far this one is perhaps the the most haunting of them all.  This is a compelling film that has somehow drawn me back time and again – a truly unique title which fills me with this unshakable sense of lost and sorrow every time I watch it, offering an uneasy sombering experience that I am not entirely sure I enjoy.

The Virgin Suicides is one of those films that one simply cannot forget once you have experienced it.  Love it or hate it, this mesmerising title has left its mark on my soul, and will surely stay with me for the rest of my life.


Spotlight: The Secret Life of Words [2006]

The 15th is slowly approaching, and not surprisingly I still find myself stuck in this low melancholic mood.  And as such, I guess it is time for yet another post on my series of haunting melancholic films.

Released in 2006 and starring Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins, tonight’s spotlight is on a slow moving drama from Spain, a beautiful gem of a film from writer/director Isabel Coixet, titled The Secret Live of Words.

This film focuses on the story of Hanna, an introverted and hearing impaired woman with a mysterious past, who takes on a job aboard a semi-abandoned deep sea oil rig, as a nurse caring for a patient suffering from severe burns and temporarily blindness.

In some ways the film is perhaps as cliche as they come – the classic tale of a man and a woman, with broken lives and disturbed pasts, coming together and forging an unlikely bond, and then through that connection begin to heal with the help of each other.

However despite the generic sounding plot, no words could describe just how well the film was made, and how haunting an experience it is, with its quiet elegant cinematography; the slow understated soundtrack; and the deep isolated loneliness invoked by its setting – and most of all, the powerful moving performances from its cast.

This film, by the way, was nominated for five Goya Awards and won four of them, including best film of the year:
Won: Best Director (Isabel Coixet)
Won: Best Film
Won: Best Original Screenplay (Isabel Coixet)
Won: Best Production Supervision (Esther García)
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Javier Cámara)

Sarah Polley was also nominated as Best European Actress by the European Film Academy for her performance in this film.

Spotlight: In My Father’s Den [2004]

Today, as promised, we shine the spotlight on yet another haunting melancholic film from my collection.  This time, we focus on one of my favorites, a little gem from 2004 called In My Father’s Den.

This film was written and directed by Brad McGann, and starrs Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Barclay, with Miranda Otto also on the cast in a supporting role.

Based on a novel by Maurice Gee, the film tells the tale of the renowned war journalist Paul Prior (Macfadyen), who returns to his small town childhood home after the death of his father.  I cannot reveal too much of the plot without lessening the impact of the experience, but it is a beautifully written and acted film that focuses on this emotionally broken man as he confronts his past, after having run away from his life 17 years prior.

Also worth noting – the film won the Fipresci Prize at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, the Mercedes Benz Youth Jury Prize at the 52nd San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain in the same year, the Special Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2005, and also the Grand Prix at the 2005 Festival du Film Britannique de Dinard.

Spotlight: Another Earth [2011]

With a certain day coming up later on this month, I thought I would shine the old spotlight on a few haunting films – melancholic titles that makes for perfect viewing around times likes these, where I would find myself stuck in one of these low depressed moods.

First up is Another Earth from 2011, a light sci-fi/drama directed by Mike Cahill, and starring Brit Marling and William Mapother.

The premise of the film is simple.  Out of nowhere a second planet has appeared in the skies, falling into orbit next to our own.  As it turns out, this planet is a second Earth, a complete duplicate of our own, complete with its full duplicate set of people.  To be honest beyond the gimmicky premise, the film itself has a pretty weak generic plot – with the usual story of  tragedy, love and redemption.

Another Earth came out with mixed reviews, and I would probably agree that perhaps it is not the best film ever made.  However, what sets it apart for me is all the little things that makes up the film. From its superb casting and their immaculate performances, to the slow enchanting camera work and the beautiful soundtrack – it all comes together to form a haunting melancholic experience that is guaranteed to both delight and depress.

Anyways check out the trailer link, and stay tuned for more haunting spotlights, coming in the next few days – that is, assuming I could be bothered. As always, heh, only time will tell.

Recently Played: Boiling Point [1990]

This DVD has been sitting in my collection for a quite a number of years now, but somehow I had never gotten around to playing it – until now that is. Released in 1990, Boiling Point was written and directed by the Japanese actor/writer/director ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano, who by the way, is probably best known in the West for his roles in films such as Violent CopZatoichi, and Battle Royale.

Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of the Japanese and their culture, and that their films, games, anime, and gadgets all play a huge part of my life, and have been for many, many years.  As such, I thought by now I would be well used to all their little ethnic eccentricities – however, watching this film I can’t shake the feeling that perhaps something was lost in the translation, and that perhaps I don’t quite understand the Japanese as well as I thought I did.

Boiling Point tells the story of a frail, quiet man in a small town, who was pushed one step too far (beyond boiling point some might say) when his friend was beaten half to death by the local Yakuza – and so begins his violent quest for revenge…

On paper, the plot was simple (and cliche) enough – however, I was not prepared for this film.  Not by a long shot.  I can’t even begin to describe how surreal the film is, with its cast of stoic deadpan characters, the constant slow awkward stares and pauses, and the general bizarreness that are scattered throughout.  If you haven’t done so already, check out the trailer on the top of the page to get an idea of just how bizarre this film really is.  I have watched the DVD twice now, and the second time round I still find myself scratching my head over every single scene, wondering just what the hell is going on with- well, everything really.

Anyways is this a good movie?  I honestly don’t know.  And did I enjoy it? Again, I really, honestly don’t know.

Recently Played: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World [2010]

Watching Tekken in the previous week got me in the mood for more video gaming action, so this week I ended up replaying the blu-ray Scott Pilgrim vs. the World from 2010.

Directed by Edgar Wright (whom you might know from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), this action-romantic-comedy plays host to a bevy of stars, including Michael CeraMary Elizabeth WinsteadJason SchwartzmanChris Evans, Brandon Routh and more.

Cera plays the titular Scott Pilgrim, a twenty-two year old bass guitarist who falls in love with the beautiful and mysterious Ramona Flowers (played by Winstead).  But in order to date her, he must first defend himself in fights to the death against her seven evil ex’es.

I have to admit that I have never read the comic the film was based on – but as a gaming nerd, a comic book lover, a martial arts fan and a hopeless romantic, I have to say this live action 8-bit film somehow manages to tick all of the boxes on my list, and then some, with its uniquely stylish visual effects, non-stop over the stop action, pumping soundtrack, and smart funny writing all backed by a great director and cast.

This film probably isn’t for everyone, but if you are a gaming nerd like myself then you are probably already a fan.  For the rest of yous, I leave you with two words: Vegan Superpowers…  I bet you’re curious now huh?

Recently Played: Tekken [2010]

While looking online for info on the recently released game Street Fighter X Tekken, I came across a poster for the live-action version of Tekken, a film which had somehow completely escaped my notice until now.  Let me start off by saying now that  I am not really that familiar with the Tekken franchise – I have basic knowledge of the universe and some of its characters, and had played the 2nd and 3rd game on the original PlayStation back in the day, but, that is pretty much it.

However, being a martial arts movie fan and a gaming nerd in general, I found myself rushing the film to the top of my rental queue.  This film, like a lot of game-based movie adaptations, was received quite negatively by- well, pretty much everybody.  You know what though – it might not be a must-see classic, but say what you will, I actually kinda like it.

Set in the year 2039, our young hero Jin Kazama, played by Jon Foo, witnesses the death of his mother Jun by the hands of the corporations. Vowing vengeance, he enters the deadly televised Iron Fist martial arts tournament run by the evil corporation known as Tekken, in a bid to gain access to the ones responsible.

Not sure how closely this ties in with the games, but perhaps my lack of familiarity might have worked in my favor, since it had allowed me to approach the film NOT as a film based on Tekken, but rather as a stand-alone martial arts action film with cyberpunk overtones.

I have no idea what the budget was, but the fights were imaginative and fun to watch, with surprisingly decent choreography, visual effects and costume designs.   As was the casting, with the likes of Jon Foo, Kelly Overton, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Luke Goss and Ian Anthony Dale on the roster.

I don’t know, like I said I kinda like the film, despite all the negative reviews. However, I must admit being a guy, my judgement on the film was kinda impaired.  Kelly Overton as Christie Monteiro – ’nuff said?

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