100 Word Review – Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox) explores the weird and wonderful world of childhood in this charming feature film.

Set on a small island off the New England coastline, a pair of 12 year old lovers run away together causing an island-wide search party.

This really is an ensemble piece, with the likes of Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormond, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman making up the inhabitants of this strange and beautiful community.

Part comedy, part drama with a touch of romance and tragedy thrown in for good measure, watching Moonrise Kingdom is watching Art.

100 Word Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Based on the writings of Stefan Zwing, writer and director Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) takes us on a journey into the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in this beautiful comedy.

Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave, a concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel, accompanied by his faithful friend Zero (Tony Revolori).

This film is full of all the wonderful actors you could hope for from an Anderson film, and a few more besides. The direction a weird and wonderful work of art, with all the precision of a master. Winner of 4 Oscars and nominated for 5 more, it’s #183 on IMDb’s Top 250 list.

100 Word Review – Fight Club (1999)

Knowing that I am breaking the first rule of Fight Club just writing this, proves what a great film this is.

Edward Norton plays an insomniac office worker whose life is disrupted when he meets the formidable, effortlessly cool Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt).

Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf and Jared Leto make up part of the amazing supporting cast to this classic psychological thriller.

Based on the best selling novel by Chuck Palahniuk (Choke, Snuff), directed by the indisputably brilliant David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl); it combines paranoia, dark humour and violence and currently proudly sits at #10 of IMDb’s Top 250.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Never has a film that wasn’t a biopic haunted me more than last night’s Bath Film Festival preview screening of Birdman.

Emma Stone’s unforgiving eyes as she yells at her father about the inconsequential nature of their existence greeted me as I woke this morning. The deep dark voice of Birdman soliloquised at me on the power of the Blockbuster as I got ready for work. Later, as I logged on to my computer, Edward Norton smashed his way through my subconscious. And at quieter moments, I could hear the unabashed laughter of Zach Galifanakis and the wandering woeful words of Michael Keaton. 

But beyond every star turn, each Oscar worthy in its own right, and the spectacular and mesmerising cinematography (can I have the envelope, please) there something subtly disturbing which makes this simultaneously a work of genius and one I would be wary to recommend. 

The film is set up as one long tracking shot. The camera appears to simply move from scene to scene, allowing time to pass and following actors as and when it chooses to. For the most part there are no visible cuts. So, when some sequences don’t match up it leaves the audience feeling somehow out of place. A bar down the street from the theatre is several buildings further away on the journey out than it is on the return walk. 

This type of disjointed continuous shot is not uncommon in cinema. It was famously, or infamously, used by Kubrick in The Shining. In this adaptation of Stephen King’s best selling novel, a young boy on a tricycle is followed by the camera in one sequence along corridors and through rooms that have been established as being on separate floors of Overlook Hotel. 

As well as this impossible architecture, Birdman is full of impossible shots, like The Shining. It also features the same hexagonal carpet in several backstage sequences as this classic horror. 

This film is impossibly brilliant.