Love The Beast

This is simply the most boring film I’ve ever seen put to screen. I mean you expect this kind of mildly interesting, but ultimately not worth watching, thing on the discovery channel, but not at a cinema for $10 a ticket.
I cant help but wonder what the target audience was for this film. What would inspire somebody to get out of the house and pay to see this? Personally I think the target audience was Eric Bana, as it is just that restrictive in content and appeal.
It is clear that the film makers themselves even saw the race scenes as monotonous, as they introduced a few techniques to attempt to make it more exciting such as louder music and split screens.
As it had no main story the film was subject to tangents and aimless dribble about cars. That’s the danger of making a documentary and I firmly believe that even documentaries should have a story plan for the audience to follow with anticipation.
Bana’s voice over was a joke. He sounded like a movie trailer vocal artist. Completely unnatural and it made it difficult to believe anything his voice over said.
On a plus note it did offer a little insight into the world of professional racing. I found the pace notes the navigators work by particularly interesting, as it draws a lot of parallels to the script and calling of a stage manager during a live theatre show.
The subtitles were also interesting with their draw back fade out effect, however I’m not considering it a positive thing that the movie was boring enough for me to notice a minute detail such as that.
All in this all this film was junk that would never make it to screen had it not been Eric Bana who made it.
(on a side note a search for “love the beast” in google image search yields disturbing results. Make sure to add Eric Bana if you plan on doing this.)

March 24, 2009. Contemporary. Leave a comment.

The Combination

Directed by David Field, The Combination tells the story of a group of Lebanese people living in Sydney. Specifically John, recently out of jail and his little brother Charlie. Early on John falls in love with a white girl named Sydney, while his brother and his group of friends are breaking into drug dealing.

The relationship between John and Sydney is confusing to grasp at first. The first scene we see of them after their initial meeting is on a date at the gym where John works, which ends badly. The next time they are seen everything appears fine as John picks Sydney up at her house for another date. Several of their scenes start out this way where they are having a good time and by the end the feeling between them will be so cold. Another example is when Sydney meets Charlie for the first time and John stops him and his friends from going to “bash” Scott. This ends with her slamming the car door and her front door after being dropped home and once again everything between them is fine in the next scene. These conflicts are never really resolved they just make up somehow.

Unresolved conflicts are not exclusive to their relationship either. In one scene one of Charlies friends, Yas stabs a person and they are all caught by the police. As the film goes on the next day he is back in school, with no resolution to what happened. I was thinking he would be arrested or put in a juvenile center, but it seems there was no punishment at all for the stabbing.

Music is one of the first things I noticed about this film, being that it was too loud and I was not able to hear some of the dialogue. This only happened with the rap music so I’m unsure at this point if it was purposely loud to display a point or if it was the audio equipment in the cinema. Rap music was also seemingly used to fuel the younger groups. It is shown that both the Lebanese and Australian highschool boys listen to the same type of rap music and this was emphasised with the use of two identical shots of the boy’s backs, panning up to their heads while listening to the music.

The film appears to have a chromatic grey wash over it, taking out vibrant colours and creating a rather desolate world. The same thing was applied to Rabbit Proof Fence to create a hellish and unpleasent feeling. In this film it is also used to blur the line between right and wrong, creating a literal grey area for the characters to inhabit.

The theme of racism is painfully clear and hit quite close to home. I live in Western Sydney and grew up around the kinds of people that the characters represent and throughout highschool especially, the gaping racial divide was particularly clear. Generally Australian soceity considers our country exceptionally multicultural and not racist, but this film depicts nothing but the truth. In fact it probably only depicts the tip of the ice berg. Australian soceity is full of closest racists who wont even admit it to themselves. This film shows that through the attitude of Sydney’s parents.

The film has a strong sense of realism. The only time I even noticed the camera were the afformentioned shots of the two boys listening to rap music. Otherwise this flm is a fantastic example of contemporary realism.

March 10, 2009. Contemporary. Leave a comment.

W.

For a film about such a “controversial” figure, W. provided very few, shocks, outrage or scandalous material expected from an equally as “controversial” director. One would think that the portrayal of a president as a no good alcoholic who’s just working towards his fathers approval might spark something, but it just doesn’t quite connect.  This may be because Bush simply isn’t as interesting as the exploits of Kennedy and Nixon, two of Stone’s previous subjects.

As the movie begins alcohol is clearly a key theme and is overly present and emphasized in every flashback scene  for the first half of the movie. For an issue present in so much of the film, it is dealt with rather swiftly in two short scenes of him collapsing on his morning run and then attending alcoholics anonymous. After he gives up alcohol the movie becomes an ad for Dr Pepper as Bush is drinking that in a lot of scenes with the logo quite visible.

On make up and costume, when flashbacks occur it is often difficult to tell the difference between the time periods as outfits and styles are not distinguishable. Bush’s physical appearance doesn’t really change through these time periods and is only evident in the present day storyline when he has gray hair.

I get the feeling that Stone was aiming to make religion a key issue of this film (though whether he intended it as a good or a bad thing escapes me) as he painstakingly shows everyone in high power to have strong Christian beliefs. Not only the American leaders, but there is apparently a cut scene where Tony Blair expresses his intentions to convert to Catholicism. Personally I find religion in politics pointless, as expressed by the character of George Bush senior as he describes the issue of openly declaring your religion to the public as “inauthentic” in the film.

Overall the film failed to reach my expectations of Stone and it was hard to connect with the characters. However it was quite interesting and I never found my concentration wavering. It would have been nice if it had had a proper ending though.

March 4, 2009. Contemporary. Leave a comment.