Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Roman Holiday

The Great Beauty announces itself as a film for the big-screen early on, and retains that status for the entirety of its 150-odd minutes. An offbeat, stand alone prologue is the perfect introduction to Paolo Sorrentino's sumptuously strange odyssey. In both stylistic and thematic terms, it's as good a primer for what follows as one could hope for. Rapidly and poetically editing between various different groups - a choir, local workers, early morning strollers and a group of Japanese tourists (one of who ultimately expires in what's implied to be a state of euphoria) - it is full of the swooping, restless tracking shots that are the core signature of Sorrentino's visual style. On a deeper level, too, it's a smart bit of narrative foreshadowing - the conflict between the ancient and the modern, the obscene and the beautiful, life and death.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Yi Yi (A One and A Two, Edward Yang, 2000)

This article is part of a year-long feature - watching and blogging about twenty acclaimed, cult, challenging and rare films over the course of 2013. The full list of films (and links to other completed posts) can be found here. Fourteen: a little bit of everything with Yi Yi.

Ah, the 'everything' film: the product of a director who, in a fit of wild ambition, tries to summarise the entirety of the human condition in one single feature. It is, by its very nature a crazy, impossible task, but it has made for some of the most fascinating films ever created. In recent times, we could count the likes of Synecdoche, New York and The Tree of Life as films that paint on the grandest canvas imaginable, and the results have been as fascinating as they have been polarising.