I turned my attention to Oliver Stone’s JFK for my latest article in The Australia Times. After writing the piece I feel that there is much more to explore with the film and that I really only scratched the surface. It is a tightly packed and beautifully researched masterwork that I hope to revisit with in a more substantial way in the future. I will flag two small spelling errors in the spirit of full disclosure but I hope that they don’t sour the read too much. Up next is a piece on Cronenberg’s Crash.
We’re still putting the finishing touches on my latest feature thriller Sororal but here is a NEW teaser trailer that should wet your whistle. The teaser features our first glimpse of Cassie, the film’s tortured heroine. Getting close now…promise.
Lukas Moodysson‘s Fucking Amål is a shining light of the cinema. It is one hour and twenty five minutes of pure joy that I would easily place among Singin’ in the Rain, The Shop Around the Corner and Chungking Express for its ability to melt even the most hard bitten cynic’s dry-ice heart. The film possesses a magic that derives from its simplicity. The direct, honest and taut nature of both the style and the content accomplish something that many films strive for but few attain: purity. The tale is rendered with such purity of feeling that we are powerless to stop it running amok with our tender little hearts.
Moodysson makes this achievement seem so effortless that it would be easy to dismiss the film as slight. To exercise visual restraint and focus on an economy of style, incredible performances and the pursuit of truth (in the face of potentially controversial material) are the towering triumphs of Fucking Amal. The film has what an old creative writing tutor of mine would call “Small window. Big view”. This phrase has manifold meanings but in this case I would argue that Fucking Amål crafts a relatively small world so believable with characters so rich and fully realised that it spectacularly transcends its earthly shackles and becomes a film about love (with a capital L), friendship and courage. It begins as a seemingly light tale of unrequited puppy love captured with the requisite handheld style we cynically associate with European coming of age films and then goes about disarming us faster than Segal in Out for Justice. It becomes a film about huge concepts and grand ideas that grow like thick roots smashing through the small clay pot they were planted in.
Agnes and Elin are as real to me as Rick and Ilsa, Faye and Cop 663, Jack and Nancy, George and Mary and Seth and Veronica. As a viewer, I am completely involved in their story and I ache for them to be united. In my opinion they must take their rightful place in the upper pantheon of screen lovers. The truly great on screen pairings move us in such a way that we are almost organically linked their successes, failures, joys and sorrows. After all, that’s what this whole thing is about isn’t it?
Note – Avoid the American trailer of this film at all costs. It cheapens the material considerably, as does the confounding retitling of the film to Show Me Love in America. This purposefully inoffensive set of words refers to a jaunty, enjoyable and long forgotten track that appears in the film.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is easily one of Woody Allen‘s finest achievements. I’ll go further and say that I think it is his finest film. I recently viewed every single one of his films again, a task which was truly mammoth considering his famously prolific output. The journey though his work yielded some fascinating insights. I am now convinced that Crimes and Misdemeanors possesses something truly special. It is a paragon of the powerful capability of and marvelous flexibility of the cinema. It contains the full gamut of human emotions. As a viewer you experience joy, anger, despair, fear, horror, hope, sadness, wonder and a little anxiety. All this and the film is hilarious to boot. The film gracefully oscillates between the two seemingly unrelated but equally captivating plot lines and leads us to an unexpected conclusion that showcases Woody Allen’s peerless artistic integrity and refusal to follow Hollywood conventions.
So what do I think puts this film above Manhattan, Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Stardust Memories and Match Point? Intellectual explanations won’t really help illuminate the reasons. All I can be sure of is that the film feels truly satisfying and complete, almost perfect. A feat for a film that by traditional writing standards avoids conclusion and resolution altogether and instead forces us to examine the inescapable realities of the world we live in. Crimes and Misdemeanors shows us that chaos is the default state of the universe. The film shows that good intentions mean nothing, that love is not fair nor true and that the only punishment is the one inflicted upon ourselves by the god of our choosing.
What I have attempted to illustrate in my Movies in Frames piece is how Woody Allen masterfully fuses Judah and Cliff’s stories together using films. This simple device serves to show us Cliff’s warm relationship with his niece and to offer counterpoint and comment to Judah’s murder thread. He visually reminds us of how Hollywood has traditionally dealt with murder and its consequences. He successfully uses 80 years of Hollywood conventions against us because even after showing us that murder is a much more complex beast than we thought, we still expect Judah to be duly punished for his ‘crimes’.
I can’t wait to see the film again. I leave you with the great Alan Alda!