Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Bellflower" (2011) - Movie Review

“Bellflower” is a wonderful aspired mess. It has the images, the ideas and the uniqueness a movie maker is looked out for and gets it, almost. At the same time I think through the future to see this as the first in the many of an aspiring film maker who picks himself up in giving a complete film. The film has already attained critical acclaim for its look and feel raising it fast to the cult status but I think it has to go some way. I cannot wait what the writer/director and star of this film Evan Glodell is going to bring next but with all due respect for his creativity, this is an amateurish attempt with potential flaming out literally through the screen.

The film focuses on two friends Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) who seem to have no source of income but have diligence in building a flame thrower and a deadly car inspired from the film “Mad Max” and the love of their post apocalyptic chaotic world. Their daily routine involves waking among dirty clothes, riding through scrap metal store to pick up random hoses, valves and what not and then build from it. They substitute beer and liquor for water and they live life through the second. These two go to a bar where only people like them would go. No wonder they have a live cricket eating contest. There stands up a blonde with trouble tattooed on her right when we see her. She is Milly (Jesse Wiseman) who hits it off with Woodrow. There begins the end of a spectacularly failing love story.

The single most thing that keeps this film alive and kicking is Joel Hodge’s cinematography. Evan Glodell designed and built that instrument which captures colours in a manner which are so home to old films. When colour photographs came to origins which reminds me of 70s and when it is dusted through the times and weather, what we get is a nostalgia in colour. This gets transformed into every frame of “Bellflower”. You would have never seen fire and flame like this and it soothes and fluids through the eyes of its viewer. It is real and at the same time surreal. It is what makes this otherwise ordinarily messed up weird film into an experience.

Woodrow and Milly begin their date on an impromptu road trip to Texas in the hunt of dining at the most scariest and filthiest place they could think of. Through that journey blossoms instantaneous love. Woodrow as much a crazy and hipster as he can be is stunned by this beauty. She is impulsive, more than Woodrow has ever been. She takes the time in her hand, wraps it up and throws through the wind and inhales it in a heartbeat. She is deadly and delicious. She is the ultimate woman and the terrible one.

In between their blossoming love is the devoted friend Aiden. Amongst providing sumptuous alcohol, cigarettes and being the supportive partner in crime for blowing things through the air and on road, he is the best friend Woodrow could ask for. Milly’s best friend Courtney (Rebekah Brandes) is another girl sprayed on emotions throughout and wondering when a broken heart would be there to be fixed. Soon the disaster happens as Milly breaks Woodrow’s heart in the worst possible manner. As Woodrow loses himself into the depression and slowly chews and swallows in dealing with the betrayal and heartbreak, the story spins out of control into chaos.

“Bellflower” is spotted with potential brilliance. It has the characters to be watchful for but has amateur actors walk through lethargically. For starters, Evan Glodell should have distanced himself from the acting department, at least for his debut. While he could very well be a good actor, he does not pull through on dialogue deliveries. What seems to be an attempt in being realistic and natural in these two falling love becomes a comedy of bad deliveries. It does not hurt the film but does not benefit it which would have made it a much better film.

I did not dislike the film nor did I like it. What I saw is an artist with a great crew showing his unique abilities in providing a film that has visuals and presentation style that has not been seen before. It is filled with poetry and odd impressive background scores that punches through the screen. There is no doubt that Evan Glodell is a film maker and the passion of giving something new is evident. What is missing is the completeness of it and having a coherent thought throughout the film than for the half of it. The next venture of Glodell should be focusing on that and I will be fluttering with excitement to see that.

"J. Edgar" (2011) - Movie Review

Clint Eastwood, that unrelenting director is a writer’s creator. He takes the material on the script and dictates what it has to say. There is not self indulgence, a style nor a narrative order to mark his signature in any of his films. It simply goes unseemly and amalgamates in to the presentation and comes out like any other good film. Even his moderately successful films have that characteristic and “J. Edgar” falls in to that as well.

John Edgar Hoover was the most powerful man to have an iron hand over the political and influential figures right from the moment he became the Director of the freshly found FBI. Played by Leonardo Di Caprio with the total dedication that is an essentiality on a biographical film, he conducts it to his best formed abilities. Written by Academy Award winning writer Dustin Lance Black who debuted strongly through “Milk”, it portrays a mysterious man coming to a world where he knew the militancy of the evolving world. He foresaw the criminal growth and the necessity to build an institution for inventive techniques to catch them, even if it required side stepping privacy and stomp on the grounds of blackmailing and hold leverage as the single tool to do what he thought of to be in the best interest of the country. As fanatics fool themselves in the guise of righteousness, Edgar is no different from those. Yet there is a story to be told on this hardened man with shadowed private life.

Eastwood gives a man who is so sure of his opinions and decisions. His certainty is followed by a fierce face and execution in delivery of his speech. He is a man judging everyone by the second and then goes onto make sure they are kept in track of their doing just so to sleep himself to peace of any iota of wrongdoing plausibly emerging in them, even in their thoughts. For a man who had nothing but trust issues, he trusts three people in his life. His mother Anna Marie (Judi Dench), his personal secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) and his second in command Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

Apart from his mother, the other two marks his tremendous sense of judging a character on the nature of their loyalty to him. What they saw in this unemotional, distant, coercive and stubborn man is something we sparsely see in “J. Edgar”. The film goes through his dictation to several of his Agents who type his memoir that never got published. Then Eastwood inserts the alleging details, rumours and what not into making a film of laying down the man’s legacy both objectively and subjectively.

The problem with “J. Edgar” is the unavailability of what drives Edgar to be such a hard man to defend his country. How did patriotism birthed into him and how it became a fanatic obsession on securing his country at any cost? We meet him at the end of his career not willing to give up, even to old age and then recite his story more on his growth and struggles in building this bureau from ground up.

He goes out on date with Helen right after they meet because that is what men did and for a man who is full of ego, he takes rejection from Helen in the most amicable fashion. He then makes her his trustworthy secretary and the guardian of the private files he begins to accumulate on the figures of power. He kept those with malicious intentions of keeping himself the head of the bureau because he is the best man for the job as he has convinced himself of. And to conduct his business of absolute power onto obtaining information on citizens and on the lookout for terror and invasion, there is no way he is giving up on that. Paranoid was his best hobby.

Edgar is said to be gay and his subordinate second in hand Clyde played by Armie Hammer is the closest I could think of him being portrayed emotionally open. A mother who dictated his life to the inch was trustworthy but not emotionally available for the problems and frustrations he had to endure. Edgar as a person comes off as a man of the times. Concerned greatly about his image and his presentation, he made sure his authority remained and anyone who could question it got brushed off to the sides and behind the desks. The film reiterates those known facts than to not provide any insight on him.

The interesting part of the film are his visions of bringing technology and expertise to investigations. He brings handwriting experts, wood experts and whatever the current investigative television has taken into from technology and knowledge are provided the base in how Edgar saw several decades back. With enormous supporting cast, Edgar suffers from an emotionally vacant script which is surprising to have come from Dustin Lance Black whose debut of “Milk” was filled with it. If Eastwood went for a clinical approach in leaving the motivations of this stubborn man to interpretation and have a history lesson conducted, then it is played against his film. What ticked this complicated, arrogant, closeted, inventive and intelligent man and why it ticked him? We never get to find it.