Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Filmic Thoughts

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
I've been meaning to write detailed posts on a whole bunch of films, but I haven't found time, so here's a few very brief notes/ideas/thoughts instead:

Somersault: After being nominated for a record 15 Australian Film Institute Awards, Cate Shortland's amazing debut feature film looks to be on the way to getting the recognition it deserves. This is without a doubt the best Australian film of the year (in all fairness, there's not that much real competition after a pretty lacklustre season at Aussie cinemas). Abbie Cornish is an absolutely amazing actress and her central character Heidi actually looks sixteen as opposed to the Hollwyood "teen" actors who all look mid-thirties! The drama is realistic, compelling, disturbing and, despite all of this and the gritty realism of its tone, the film is ultimately hopeful. Shortland deserves the best director AFI, and will almost certainly win it. While the film might be accused of being a little too artistic--the use of handicam is overdone at times--this is a minor criticism of an exceptional film and more importantly points to a lot more exciting work to come from Cate Shortland (hopefully some of it still to be made in Australia!).

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut: I was pretty nervous about seeing the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko because I had enjoyed the original version so much. The extras on the DVD (from which almost all the extra footage comes) includes a commentary which made me realise I enjoyed my reading of the film far more than Richard Kelly's intended reading and I feared that the Director's Cut would lose much of the ambiguity that I thought had the film so fantastic. Half way through the director's cut I was concerned, but by the end I think that was is added actually hightens the ambiguity. The major changes to my mind basically made the Darko family seem far more caring to one another (especially Donnie's relationship with his parents), made it far less likely that you could read Donnie as psychotic (his psychiatrist confirms that his medicine in a placebo in the director's cut), and the Tangent Universe looks like it could be some sort of technologically enhanced simulation since we see ones and zeroes flash across the screen as the Tangent collapses after Donnie accepting "his fate". Oh, and the Philiosophy of Time Travel book plays a larger role; the various chapters in the book end up appearing to frame new sequences in the film. Overall: I think I actually prefer the Director's Cut and think people will be arguing about what it "really means" for the next fifty year (which, for me, is the mark of an exceptional film!).

Outfoxed: Low production values, but very high impact. Looking at what ex-pat Rupert Murdoch's Fox News does to any notion of "truth" in US media coverage is astoundingly gut-wrenching. No wonder Republicans get such good Fox reporting; Rupert is running ART (All Republican Television) 24/7. The doco is slow at times, but is well worth watching to see how much manipulation is running under mainstream US new media. Power to the resistant bloggers, I say! ;)

Hellboy: Nice effects. Ron Pearlman is fun. The film desparately needed a proper ending, though (it was such ani anti-climax that I'm sure there was a different ending written and they ran out of money to film it [or do the many sfx]). Still, not quite up the comic book's high graphic standards.

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