Thursday, April 27, 2017

Film's I've seen recently: Beauty and The Beast and The Wolfpack

Here we go some filums I've seen recently.

1. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

A Disney and Mandeville co-production, of a live action and CGI animation version of the 1991 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST animation film, which has so far made $1.186 billion. There is, obviously, no accounting for taste. Except to note that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the most expensive musical movie ever made when one includes the hefty Marketing budget. Marketing the product (art?) is very important, indeed.

The film is a safe remake of the Musical created by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. It features a blatantly bland performance from Emma Watson, as Belle. (Ms Watson - Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise, in case you are trying to figure out who she is - was paid $3 million and a bonus if the film scored Big Box Office - it has! She is an admirable political activist - perhaps - but can she act?). Dan Stevens, supports as the Beast, who is more attractive in the Beast CGI disguise than as the rescued Prince. Kevin Kline gives an unusually subdued performance, as Dad - make-up is good. Luke Evans gives an unimaginative reading of egoist Gaston - looking a little old for the casting, by the way - allowing for Josh Gad, as his side-kick, Le Fou, to get acting honours and an historic Gay Moment tick box (oh, come on 'gay role play for all the movie' tick box) - whilst, meantime, Emma Thompson, as the voice for Mummy Potts, wins the the best, the most affecting performance. What a waste of Audra McDonald talents, by the way. Ian McKellen does a 'phone-in' or, what else can he do?

This new version of the story gives writing credits to Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, the film Directed dully by Bill Condon, with enough (some) classic film references to other films to entertain, to tantalise us to keep us awake - e.g. The Sound Of Music hill moment, the Frankenstein crowd hunt moments etc. Let's have a competition to see how many you can find? If only Mr Condon could top his 1998 GODS AND MONSTERS movie, or the 2004 KINSEY movie which he also wrote, we might want to believe in him again. But this is just horrible hackwork - not that of a real artist, is it?

If you have kids that have never seen a movie, take them along if you want them to have an indelible child hood memory, I guess. Don't worry too much about the subtle social engineering going on. My first cherished movie memory is SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, and I just love, Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY, and still have nightmares because of PINOCCHIO. I have turned out ok, don't you think? Disney was my childhood saviour, I guess. So, though I can be entirely bored and unimpressed with this formulaic bit of commercialism as an elitist adult poseur, it must have some value for some out there. $1.186 Billion is not anything if not good capitalism, or, is that just good altruistic Disney Corporate Family Entertainment? Would Walt have been pleased?

2. THE WOLFPACK.

THE WOLFPACK is a 2015 first time documentary made by Crystal Moselle.

Walking down a New York street, Ms Moselle encountered a pack of boys all dressed as if they were characters from Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS. She followed them and talked with them. She made friends with them, fascinated by their interest in film. They became friends and she gained their trust. These young men were more interesting than she could ever have guessed. Gradually, over time she discovered that these boys had lived most of their lives in a four bedroom apartment in the East Village. They had never, rarely, left that apartment. OMG. The Angula family, the six boys and a younger sister, under the direction of their father, Oscar, and home schooled by their mother, Susanne, rejected the corrupting outside world of the USA. Their lives were built on movies. They had a collection of some 10,000 films. They made films of their own. Building the sets and properties and making the costumes from their own resources, sometimes, shooting the same film multiple times, in their apartment.

Footage made by Ms Moselle has been augmented with a collection of home made movies made by the family over the many years of self-captivity. The film, later, captures the boys moving out from the apartment into the world and finding their way. The documentary is amazing because it is mostly just observational with occasional interview. The boys, the mum and even the dad, relate to the camera aurally, but minimally. They all appear to be remarkably adjusted and all seem to be finding a niche in the world that was once forbidden.

So many questions arise after the viewing and it is that mysterious aspect of the experience of the film that tantalises. It is that that urges me to encourage you to catch it.

Fascinating. Weird. And yet, oddly, re-assuring. I don't know why I feel that way. I know the premise should be the source of much judgment and even cynicism and yet! ... Is it the fact that there is no classic climatic drama or conflict or violence? That the film is so even tempered that one becomes detached into a 'floating' acceptance and hope for the family? That in the final images as one of the boys Directs a film of his own that has a feel/look of an Art-Indie film, like that of a Alejandro Jodorowsky film? Or, of the imagery of a Fellini. Or the atmosphere of a David Lynch. I don't know what it is!

I saw it with a friend that had seen it before and their reaction was, they said, so different from the first viewing. There are lovely 'spaces' in the footage of this documentary for you as an audience to endow, to interpret, that this film/documentary might resonate very differently for you each time you see it. Depending and been affected by your emotional state with your world. There is an ethical ill-at-ease aspect to it for me at this time, and yet at the same time, I am so curious as to know what will happen to this family, to these boys that I can't forget THE WOLFPACK. It kind of haunts you. I care for the family, the boys particularly, and have hope for their safety, happiness. Remember the 'connections' you had with the Maysles' film Grey Gardens (1976) and your fascination with the two women, mother and daughter, the Edith Beale's, living, isolated, in the East Hampton's? Then, this may be your new adopted interest/family.

Highly recommended. Truth is truly more amazing than fiction. Henry Fielding in his 1749 novel, TOM JONES, talks of the telling of the MARVELLOUS. THE WOLPACK is that experience. Marvellous. A Marvel. It has to be true, because fiction could not have imagined, invented this 'plot'/story arc. It does not follow the rules - it is alive and thence, unpredictable. Maybe that is what it is, it is as unpredictable in plot development as I hope my life can be, should be.

I saw it at my new favourite cinema: The Golden Age Cinema, down on Commonwealth St. Surry Hills. It is such a cool bar and screening room. Beware the Paramount cocktail - I had two - it was my birthday.

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