So I’m only onto my third blog, and already I’m finding it hard to find enough movie’s to watch to do another one of these, and after how much I enjoyed the recommendation of Adventureland on my first blog I’ve decided that I’m going to put a question to you, the wonderful users of Screened.com, at the end of each blog so that I can get recommendations for the next edition.
I’ve been able to put these out pretty quickly because I’ve had a lot of free time recently, but after this week I’m going to be a lot more busy and I’ll struggle to get them out so frequently. I will try to remain at least a weekly blog, but I really can’t say for sure if I’ll be able to stick with it. With that out of the way, here’s what I’ve been watching recently.
Since seeing Moon I have been a firm believer that Duncan Jones is one of the most promising young film makers of recent years, and this belief, combined with the premise that instantly reminded me of Philip K. Dick had me very excited to see this film when information began to leak out about it. One of my favourite aspects of Source Code is its cast; Gyllenhaal is great as Colter Stevens and makes the characters response to his situation completely human and empathetic. Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga are also great as these two kind of supporting lady roles across different realities. I also didn’t hate the ending anywhere near as much as other people seem to. I had been told to straight up skip the last two or three minutes of the film, and while I didn’t love the ending I really didn’t think it was that offensively bad. My biggest complaint is probably the villain, he seemed kind of rushed and without any proper explanation, but then I guess concessions have to be made if you want to set up a sci-fi premise and tell a story in 90 minutes. That said, Jones completely delivers on his promise and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
I have wanted to see American History X for some time as it seems to be, along with Fight Club, the only movie starring Edward Norton that I ever see strongly recommended and I tend to think of his performance in Fight Club as one of my favourites of all time. I was really surprised by this movie, I kind of avoid any movies that deal with race issues as they tend to either come across as patronising or downright offensive, but American History X manages to avoid this by having a character who doesn’t single-handedly defeat racism, but instead just tells his story of overcoming it. The combination of Norton’s performance as Derek Vinyard and the script make this change in character completely believable. Derek is by no means a white knight by the end of the story, and that is what makes it all the more believable. Seeing him struggle to deal with friends that he doesn’t want to offend but has completely different views from is pretty amazing, and really gives an otherwise detestable character something to identify with. My biggest issue with American History X is its ending, and this will contain spoilers. Danny Vinyard’s shooting just feels completely out of nowhere and unbelievable, it reminded me of the ending of American Beauty in that the screenwriter seemingly didn’t know how to add a big ending to his story and so just killed off a main character. I almost feel like maybe I didn’t read enough into the ending and maybe there is some message there but I certainly couldn’t find one. All things considered, this is a really great film that has the rare ability to deal with big subjects such as racism, rape and murder with the appropriate weight.
I always cite Scorsese as one of my favourite directors, as I’m sure many others do, but I realised that I hadn’t seen many of his films outside of the really famous ones, and so I’m trying to fix that. Mean Streets is really amazing to go back and watch now for two reasons. Mean streets is most famous for being the first collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, and after seeing this it’s obvious why Scorsese chose to use De Niro in Taxi Driver and so many other movies after that. De Niro seems to treat his role as if it is the main character and not a supporting character, and this is really to his benefit as he easily outshines Keitel, and seems much more intimidating than Keitel when the pair nearly come to blows. Mean Streets also gives an amazing insight into Scorsese’s directorial confidence with many scenes shot with hand cameras to amazing effect and other particularly memorable scenes such as Keitel wandering drunk around a bar to the sound of Rubber Biscuit by The Chips. It is these combinations of incredibly confident artistic direction that make Mean Streets such an amazing movie after all these years.
So for my next blog I want you guys to tell me what other movies featuring Edward Norton are worth watching. I’ve got my eye on Primal Fear, perhaps just because I want to see an early performance, but I’d really appreciate more recommendations.
Once again, thanks for reading!