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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for the ‘1980s’ Category

Duran Duran – My Own Way ; 1981/1982

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Directors: Russell Mulcahy

I was a bit unimpressed with this video because “Girls on Film“‘s video was so elaborate. This video seemed like a combination of “Careless Memories” and “Planet Earth“‘s video with the German Expressionist-like background and the focus on band members. Not only that, but the dancers were also reminiscent of the dancers in “Planet Earth”, but I guess this is pretty explainable since the director is the same.

What I did like was the editing for this video and the Mondrian-esque bits added a fun effect to the video, which complemented the song. The quick cuts matched the beat of the music, so I thought that was pretty neat. Other than the editing, there weren’t any references to the lyrics in the song.

I like to imagine that this video isn’t much of a marketing tool (unless the goal was to sell eye candy, in which they did succeed, in my opinion) but something you’d watch while dancing to the song and eventually, it will just be playing in the background.

Hm… I think that’s really it. I feel rather underwhelmed and don’t know what else to say.

I was happy to see Nick smiling a lot in this video because he looks so cute when he does. As he gets older, he seems to smile less and less in the videos, which makes me feel pooped. Everyone looks better while smiling!
I was also amused by the parrot strutting on his synth and also making an appearance next to Roger’s drum set. I wonder what Nick would have done with the parrot took a dump on his synth. Immature thought but it was a thought that crossed my mind for a second while watching the video.

The Shining ; 1980

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Actors: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joe Turkel
Country: United Kingdom, U.S.A.

This entry is dedicated to my friend Stephanie, who is the only one who knows how much I dreaded watching this movie and was willing to do a Kubrick marathon with me. Thank you for being an awesome friend!

***

Finally, Stephanie and I were able to watch The Shining and resume our Kubrick marathon. I was scared since I do not like horror films at all and I am so glad that we got this movie out of the way. It was worth the watch, but no way am I rewatching this again! (Unless it is with bunnies.)

What made the movie most frightening for me was the use of sound, particularly the score. It complemented the actions on the screen perfectly and created the most unnerving atmosphere. For example, towards the end, when Wendy (Duvall) is looking for Danny inside the hotel, the chant-like music seemed to reflect the hotel’s ghosts coming to life but it also added drama to the scene. I felt very scared watching that scene due to the music and what Wendy was going through. Although I haven’t watched many horror films in my life, I do know that sound plays a large role in the genre, but Kubrick’s use of synth music did a great job in evoking eeriness, claustrophobia, and tension. It was the music that made me jump and feel like I was on the edge of my seat, more than the actions on the screen.

A few things that caught my attention was the exterior shot of the Overlook Hotel (ref. Picture 2) and the acting. When I saw the shot of the hotel, at first, I didn’t even see it until I looked closely at the shot. I wondered why Kubrick chose this hotel because it blended with the surroundings and the shot looked weird. After thinking over it a bit, I thought that the shot worked because it made the hotel look ghostly in the “is it there or is it not there?” sense, which seems to foreshadow the supernatural things that are to happen later on in the movie.
As for the acting, in the beginning, I thought that Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall’s acting was incredibly hokey. It was if I was watching a B-movie and I thought that Nicholson in particular was hamming it up. In retrospect, I wonder if this was intentional and if it was, maybe it was an indicator for Jack’s (Nicholson) descent into madness as the hotel takes a hold of him. When Jack is interviewing for the caretaker position and when he calls his wife about it, something about him seems off and inauthentic, but when he decides to do his best to “correct” his wife and child, there is nothing about him that seems fake. As the movie progressed, I stopped thinking this and thought that the chemistry between all the major players in the movie was perfect. I stopped thinking that Nicholson was being hammy and I started to find Duvall to be less and less grating and was rooting for Wendy. Often times when I watch movies, I’m thinking, “YOU IDIOT, WHY AREN’T YOU DOING SO-AND-SO?!” but Wendy was sympathetic and perfect in portraying a loving wife and mother who is frazzled but doing her best to survive and save her son. When Jack is breaking through the bathroom door and talking/singing about little piggies (brilliant moment in acting, by the way), Wendy looks horrified due to what is happening, but when she finally acts and slashes her husband’s hand, her face expression is a combination of fright and guilt over having to hurt her husband. I loved how Wendy was very active and how you could see that there were many thoughts racing through her head, and she tried to think of what she can do to get out of the situation that she is in. She wasn’t some useless woman who gave up and wailed about her woes, but she tried her best to save herself and her son.

What I found enjoyable about The Shining is that it’s not a horror film that’s all about screaming and being scared. There is nothing wrong with movies like that since it’s a completely different experience, but The Shining made me become invested in the plot and the characters rather than watching out for the next scream moment. I’m a fan of straight forward endings, but after watching this movie, I had fun thinking about what certain scenes meant and I have to give props to a movie that let’s me enjoy thinking about something. It also seemed that it was a film that was fully aware of the nature of films in regards to how they are watched and how there is no right interpretation in regards to a movie or any artistic work. I have never been so aware of the mise-en-scène until this movie — the amount of red used in this movie makes you even more aware of its usage. In regards to interpreting film, it reminded me of my early years in college and how I struggled with the idea of what’s the “right” way of looking at a movie until a professor told me to stop stressing and that there is no right or wrong. A person can have their own views and if they can support it, then all is peachy keen. It doesn’t mean that others need to agree or that one needs to agree with others’ points-of-view, but these various perspectives can lead to discussions and further thinking.

Stephanie told me about The Shining re-enacted by bunnies and showed me this wonderful video. I found it absolutely hilarious and adorable and had to watch it on repeat. What amazed me was how successful the video was in capturing all the key scenes and I didn’t find it scary at all. I thought that the “staring” part (ref. Picture 3) was really funny because I didn’t expect to see that within the 30 seconds. It’s impressive how much information can be crammed in 30 seconds.

I would love to watch this movie again, but since I’m a big fat chicken, it’s going to be one of those movies that I admire but can’t rewatch. I can see why so many people are a fan of this movie and I have great appreciation for it as well. I’m really enjoying the Kubrick marathon and so glad that a friend is partaking in it as well. The next film we’re going to watch is Barry Lyndon!

IMDb Link: The Shining

Duran Duran – Girls on Film ; 1981

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Directors: Godley & Creme
Original air date: July 13, 1981

For some reason when I rewatched this video, it left me cold. Maybe I ate too much lunch so my brain was dead, but I remember my first impressions when I saw the video for the first time. I remember thinking that it was quite funny, was a bit shocked by the suggestive scenes, and loved the model acting like a sumo wrestler because her hairdo amused me. However this time around, I felt nothing. Maybe I’m just thinking too much these days, which is taking out the fun in watching anything. Lately I’ve been feeling quite a bit of indifference to things that I’ve watched.

I liked how the video showed the camera and the band members back-to-back so that the viewers become aware that it’s not just girls who are on film, but the boys as well. I loved how John Taylor was getting primped up and Nick Rhodes was checking himself out in the mirror; I thought it was quite appropriate and was sort of like a role reversal in regards to how these behaviors and actions are stereotypically attributed to women. Sadly (for me), there are more instances of seeing other people than the band members, which means that my attention is drawn away from the band members (let’s not kid ourselves, all I wanted was Nick) and onto the characters doing various things. I thought it was quite hilarious how these women were shown as dominant and yet they are still subservient since they are playing these roles in front of the band members. It doesn’t help that the band members said that all they cared for was checking out the models — you can’t really blame them since they were in their late teens. Hell, I’m in my early twenties and I still fangirl. Interestingly enough, the males who are doing the “looking” aren’t the band members (they’re just performing) but they are the men who are eventually beaten up by the women. It’s a little bizarre how the set design makes it appear as if these female models and male actors are performing for the band members and yet it also appears to be that the show piece are the characters and the band members are just there to provide music for the scene. I guess everyone wanted to play the decoration role in this video.

I know that music videos don’t need to complement or have anything to do with the lyrics to the song, but I thought it was pretty tongue-in-cheek to show these one-dimensional female models/characters when the song (from what I understood) is sympathetic towards female models. The following lyrics

“Girls on film (she’s more than a lady)”

“There’s a camera rolling on her back, on her back. And I sense the rhythm humming in a frenzy all the way down her spine.”

“The diving man’s coming up for air cause the crowd all love pulling dolly by the hair, by the hair. And she wonders how she ever got here as she goes under again.”

made me think that the song was about how female models are seen as objects without any substance and how they are used by photographers. Yet here we are watching this video that shows women being objectified for our pleasure and we don’t really care for the women and what they have to go through. At the end of the video, we see these women retreating behind the scenes and having a good time so why should we really care for these women anyway, right? In this sense, I do think that this dichotomy created by the video and the lyrics is quite brilliant.

One more thing: I love Nick’s hair in this video! I am loving how his hair changes from video to video, although I am going to assume that his hair is going to be same throughout the travelogue videos. And I never understood why people thought John was so handsome until I watched this video. Look at him in the screencap!!! What a dreamboat.
I’m just going to give up using last names and refer to the band members by their first names from now on. I’m so inconsiderate, presumptuous, and rude, hahaha.

Duran Duran – Careless Memories ; 1981

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Directors: Terry Jones, Perry Haines

Ah, “Careless Memories”! How I love this song because of the lyrics; they’re probably one of the few Duran Duran songs that I relate to and it’s probably the ~eternally angsty teenager~ side of me that makes me think fondly of this song.

Going to the video…

Call me mean, but I found this video absolutely hilarious. It was my first time watching it and I was surprised by what the video entailed. I enjoyed it so much because I loved how cheesy it was in so many parts (ref. Picture 1) — even the lighting added to the corny factor of this video. It was very similar to “Planet Earth” in that there isn’t much to look at except for the members, and I swear to God, I bet that all Duran fans watched this just to see Simon Le Bon’s overacting. I can’t hate the video for Le Bon’s acting because I felt like even he wasn’t taking the video very seriously and I always see Le Bon as a big jokester. There were so many time when I chortled and this video made me love Le Bon even more. He was so dreamy in the 80s and his hairstyle in this video suits him very well. I wish that he stuck with the hairdo since it’s so flattering on him (although between us, I not-so-secretly like Le Bon’s hair in the Big Thing era!)

Visually, nothing caught my eye. That’s a lie, because I looked forward to close ups of Nick Rhodes throughout the entire video. There just wasn’t enough of him, which was a big, fat shame because he looked so good in this video! I want to pet his fluffy hair… and look at his sleeves!!! I want that blouse in my closet. I fangirled every moment Rhodes came on the screen because he looked fabulous and he smiles in this video too! No one can deny that the man has a beautiful smile — it’s just too bad that he rarely shows it in pictures (ref. Picture 2). I am starting to wonder if all I’m going to end up doing in my future blog posts is to mention Rhodes and what I think of him in the videos. I wouldn’t be surprised if I do.

On a serious note, the only ~cinematic~ things that caught my eye was the possible use of a crane to get a close up of Le Bon and the freeze frames of the flowers being shown. In all honesty, the freeze frame flower bits were the most interesting things in the video because of their suddenness, and it complemented the frustration mentioned in the lyrics.

What I noticed in regards to Duran Duran videos that I’ve watched was that if I like the song, I’m usually disappointed by the music video. I can’t really blame anyone for this, especially with such an early video, but the songs that I like usually have videos that I’m not too fond of. I got through “Careless Memories” easily because I thought that Le Bon made it really fun (I couldn’t help but dance along to the video) but then I think about “Save a Prayer” and how much I dislike that video (will talk more about that when it’s time to write about it). However, my fault is that I expect things without knowing what I want so I can’t even write a good criticism about this video. If someone asked me, “What would you have done differently?” I would just derp and run away.

Such were the thoughts when I watched this video.

Duran Duran – Planet Earth ; 1981

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Directors: Perry Haines, Russell Mulcahy

Just to clear some things before going into the post, I am using original air dates and posting about music videos from information given to me by Katy of Ask Katy or information that I’ve gleaned from the Duran Duran Wiki.

Now that’s all cleared, onto the post!

I have been working on this post for 2 weeks now and I admit defeat. I am probably going to look back at this entry when I’m 40 years old and go, “What in the world?”

As for the video, I have mixed feelings about the “Planet Earth” video but in the end, I absolutely love it. Here is the thing. I love pretty things and people but then there is the other side of me that says, “You were a film studies major for Christ’s sake. YOU CAN’T JUST LOOK AT SURFACES.” But the thing is, as much as I like to learn, I also like to admire something that is pretty and not to think much about it. How I react to nice visuals changes from situation to situation and sometimes, I just want to like something for superficial reasons, and that is the case with “Planet Earth”.
On the one hand, I wish that the music video was more ~interesting~ (like their video for “The Chauffeur”), but truthfully, I love this video because I get to see the band members in their prime in regards to their looks. There are close ups of every member and I get to just feast on these pretty boys. And is there something wrong with that? There probably is and I’m sure much can be said about “the gaze” but all of that goes out the window after I see Nick Rhodes in a frilly shirt and a nice jacket. I share the same sentiments with Andy Warhol when he said, “Oh I really like their videos, they have the best videos. They didn’t have enough of Nick Rhodes on that peace record though; there’s a lot of Simon on it but Nick just comes in at the end.” — that’s how I feel about every single Duran Duran video. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH NICK RHODES IN MY LIFE. Yes, it is the truth and I don’t care about content when there are pretty things to be seen. I think my guilt is assuaged because I find many of Duran’s videos to be about admiring nice things and that whatever I see in these videos are meant for my pleasure. I also found something on Ask Katy, which I found to be a bit funny. A fan asked why Roger Taylor is the topless one in the beginning of the video and he answered, “I can’t think of any reason why i [sic] was chosen for the opening shot other than I was the only one prepared to take my shirt off and bare all!” Yep, bare it all for us fans! Woohoo!

I think that’s really the worst though. The fact that I don’t tend to care much about my thought process and dismiss it alarms me a bit at times (as you can tell from this ramble and probably all my blog entries). I guess I can make myself feel better by saying, “I’m looking at manufactured pretty boys! I’m doing what I’m SUPPOSED to do.” I’m a brainless robot.

The video makes it so easy to consume the band members that critical thinking goes out the window when I watch the video. It starts with a topless R. Taylor and from there, it is a visual feast of the members, especially of Simon Le Bon. The lines that pop up next to the topless Le Bon draws the viewer’s eyes to Le Bon’s face so that all we can do is stare at him and sigh in contentment. I guess that this isn’t all that new with music videos, since older music videos that I’ve watched also featured the band members prominently.
I suppose that there isn’t much guilt in regards to consuming these pop stars because the music is so catchy and easy to take in. What I do find interesting is that in their earliest video, there isn’t much objectification going on in regards to women. Sure, there are those New Romantic dancers (male and female) and the woman who is next to Simon (ref. Picture 2), but she’s there for such a little while and most viewers are probably caring more about the band members than the woman. The woman may play the usual “decoration” role, but I can easily brush it off since the band members themselves are more interesting and decorative than the woman.

What I like seeing in moving pictures are references to the past, and I am thinking that the “Planet Earth” video took some visual cues from Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920). I like to see this as a nod towards the role that music videos will play in Duran Duran’s career, in that the band is taking a risk in investing something that is new, which in turn will open doors for them. Dr. Caligari‘s set design was different than what was normally seen in silent films at the time and Duran Duran’s increasingly elaborate videos were something new too. Not only that, Duran Duran’s videos became highly associated with them, just as German Expressionism, and particuarly Dr. Caligari, became a hallmark and icon for German cinema. Also, the Expressionist style of Dr. Caligari came from budget issues, so I wonder if Haines and Mulcahy chose this style also for budget reasons too… Hmm…


Andy Warhol quote source: Fiona Russell Powell

Krótki film o zabijaniu (A Short Film About Killing) ; 1988

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Post by Neko

Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Actors: Mirosłav Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz
Country: Poland

Guiltily, I shall admit that I haven’t watched a serious, good movie in a l-o-n-g time, and I don’t feel right devoting my time to writing reviews of the sort of tripe I see often at the movies, not here anyway. I associate this film blog with… elegance, and hence, I bring you a short review of A Short Film About Killing.

This short by one of Poland’s most important and internationally-renowned directors has been on my to-watch list for years, and not just because Kieślowski is a personal favourite. Widely accredited as one of the last straws that pushed to Poland’s abolition of the death penalty, this film, as the title implies, is simply a short film about killing – not death, but killing – and the fine distinction between murder and capital punishment, or whether such distinction exists at all.

Running at 81 minutes, the film revolves around the lives of a drifter (Baka), the taxi driver he randomly murders (Tesarz) and the advocate who so passionately argues his case (Globisz). I watched the film with the original Polish audio-track as well as English subtitles which I glanced to now and then, for comparison’s sake. I do have to admit that something is, as almost always, lost in the translation. This isn’t a particular criticism of whoever provided the subtitles, as they are relatively true to the spoken word and translated neatly for the English-speaking viewer… however, the Polish audio isn’t always neat itself, purposely so. The Polish language is a complex one in terms of structure, and the English subtitles let it down a bit.

With that out of the way, I haven’t a lot to nitpick. I have a special fondness for Kieślowski as a director too because I always find myself mesmerized by his depiction of the Polish people – not individual characters, but a wider setting. They are marked by a subtle sadness, a slow but persistent coldness signature to the era of one war after another. Kieślowski interferes with the observations of the three interwoven lives here very little – indeed, a bit too little for my liking at times, almost clinically so.

The taxi driver has a small role, but it suggests him to be a spiteful, weak man. The drifter, and Baka playing him, is forceful and calm and cold even as he wavers – he appears to have no reason for killing the taxi driver, nor is he particularly regretful of the act itself. Although there is some tragedy in his past, which accounts for his terrible detachment, his life up to then had not been especially unfortunate considering the times and the location. He is a curious figure, not differentiating at all between his act of killing and himself as a man, an ironic perspective considering the implied comparison between individual and state killings. His back-story, however, does slant the viewer towards him more so than to either his victim or his killer – the taxi driver, and the state – perhaps unfairly, as neither of these have revealed stories of their own.

Globisz (who I inappropriately keep referring to in my head as a sort of older, Polish version of Gael García Bernal) is something else entirely. His conflict with his profession makes him the most important character, in my opinion. When the verdict of the death penalty is handed down, he agonizes of what he could have done differently, whether an older, more experienced and prestigious lawyer could have gotten a lesser sentence.

As I said above, Kieślowski does not necessarily disseminate a particular view point, as seen in the ‘observer’ approach of the camera –the two murders, state and individual, are just placed next to each other for comparison. The best example is that the court case is not shown, and vitally so, because the judge sadly praises the lawyer for one of the most persuasive and eloquent anti-death-penalty speeches he had heard in years – this would have heavily biased the viewer, or so it is implied. Globisz’s character takes little comfort in hearing that he made no mistakes, as a lawyer or as a human. In the words of the judge, Globisz’s character is too delicate for this job. He stays with the drifter and watches his death and agonizes over it some more once the deed is done. He isn’t especially amicable to the drifter because he killed, he doesn’t condone the killing itself, but he treats the drifter simply like a man.

The death penalty has since been abolished in Poland, and now exists in far fewer countries than once, long ago – but it does still exist, and this film is a must-see for anyone with a passionate opinion on either side of the debate; not because it is likely to sway your opinion, but because it is juxtaposed so harshly with something we all ‘know’ is wrong. What does that leave it as?

Of course, if you aren’t convinced for my moral fangirling of the film, see it for the visuals, because biased as I am, the cinematography is undeniably beautiful as always. The light muted at the edges and the colours, perhaps not appropriate for the message, are strangely brilliant through a green filter, a constant, comforting reminder that the horror we see is not real. This combination creates a stark picture of incredible depth complimented by rich, bitter piano and orchestra, scored by Zbigniew Preisner, another favourite of my own and a frequent collaborator with Kieślowski.

Ok, I think I’ve verbally fellated Mr. Kieślowski enough for one day, but seriously, go see this film, it is a terrifying wonder.

IMDb link:
Krótki film o zabijaniu (A Short Film About Killing)
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Scanners ; 1981

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Posted by Maddy

Director: David Cronenberg
Actors: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside
Country: Canada

What to say about Scanners.
I would be hard pressed to say that it’s an overlooked masterpiece. That it’s a horrific crime that critics have not looked upon this film with the admiration it deserves. It is certainly not, but most standards, an outstanding piece of cinema.
But my god, do I ever love it.


David Cronenberg began his career within the depths of what has now been termed as “body horror.” The grotesque images that filled his filmed reflected the fear of disease (for the AIDS crisis was rampant when his career began) and mortality within society. Grotesque images of human bodies became a staple of this film maker’s repertoire and themes of corruption among big business and drug companies echo throughout his work. Initially reviled for Canadian tax payers were horrified that they tax dollars were going to his graphically violent and sexual earlier films such as Shivers and Rabid, Scanners does not fall far from the tree.
Less of a horror film and more on a science fiction bent the film Scanners is about, well, scanners – people who have telekinetic powers. They can find each other in any situation, though doing so may drive them mad, control other and even inflict physical harm upon others. The most infamous scene of Scanners is one of a man’s head exploding – occurring within the first ten minutes of the film setting the tone for the rest of it.
Various scanners, as they are referred to, have been contacted and ideally commissioned by ConSec, a company hoping to use them as a weapon. After a disastrous introduction with the public, the company falls apart leaving only Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan), a psychopharmacist to clean up the remains.

The public introduction was disturbed by the villainous Darryl Revok (played by the villainous Michael Ironside) who single-handedly sabotages the efforts of ConSec and scars the audience both in the film and the ones watching them. Revok is building his own army of scanners and will kill any scanner who refuses to join. Dr. Rusk quickly commissions his most recently found scanner Cameron Vale and uses him to find Revok and shut down the organization. Revok’s army of scanners is powerful, but they are no match to Vale’s powers, or his dead pan acting. Vale teams up with the beautiful Kim Obrist, another scanner, and the two of them track down Revok and find out the source of all this mayhem.
It appears that the cause of all of this is a drug Ephemerol which at the beginning of the film is used to mute the powers of a scanner but is later to be revealed to have been given to pregnant women – drawing a direct parallel to the horror stories of thalidomide. Vale throughout the film discovers the secret history of scanners, his own past and his ‘shocking’ connection with Revok and Ruth.
It’s easy to say this film isn’t good – the acting is not realistic (whatever that means), the special effects are over the top. But I don’t think the film would work any other way. If Vale, played by Stephen Lack wasn’t wooden, if Dr. Ruth wasn’t ridiculous, if the telekinetic battle scenes did not involve spontaneous combustion and melting eyes, if the plot twists were over the top than it would not be what it is. The film works because of its flaws and adds to the artifice of the film. There are always attempts to mask the film making within the film in mainstream cinema.

More revolutionary cinema flagrantly disregards that rule specifically drawing attention to the film making process. I would not call Scanners an art film or claim that it’s intentionally drawing attention to the artifice of filmmaking, but it does not attempt to mask it. Obviously this film is not based upon a true story, nor does it have the funding to even appear ‘realistic.’ So it doesn’t try to. But it works, for the better in my opinion, because of it. This film would no where be as good as it is if it took itself seriously. It is a science fiction film made with a modest budget. And it works within it’s limits to create something awesome with exploding heads in it. There is always something to be said for a sincere film that revels in its artifice and fictionality. Scanners is one of those films, and a real Canadian gem.

IMDb Link: Scanners
Where to buy: Amazon.com