Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Speaking in Tongues" - Terrence Malick

Any one who has heard of Terrence Malick (Terry to his friends, though I wouldn’t know…) understands that not only can his movies be regarded as enigmas, but his person as well.  A director who has been notorious for being evasive of any publicity, Malick’s philosophy professor character (has taught at Oxford and Harvard, no joke) is certainly on display in all of his films, always evoking intellectual, interpretive stimulation with thought provoking characters, story, and most importantly and prominently, imagery.


Days of Heaven

Oddly enough this used to be my least favorite out of his oeuvre, but I now definitely could regard it as his best.  A pre World War I piece about a meandering couple pretending to be brother and sister (played by Richard Gere and Brooke Adams respectively), this gorgeous (understatement) drama from 1978 shows the class and cultural differences between lowly workers on a farm and their employer.  As the couple attempts to con the owner along with a real sister (oops, forgot to mention Gere’s character’s younger sibling along for the ride), we see beautiful landscapes, visions of biblical plagues, and dialogue extremely toned down in exchange for something intellectual, thought provoking, and altogether exhilarating (if this tickle’s your fancy, the next few movies may work too).

The Thin Red Line

Malick took a small break before making this film, giving some of you the chance to age about twenty years or so… just a tiny hiatus, that all.  But if the time was necessary to bring this quality to the screen, that be ok with me.

The film that might be the most accessible as it is understandably labeled a war film, The Thin Red Line is truly unlike any other.  With a remarkable cast, massive vistas, and breathtaking natural lighting and settings, Malick has used the same style from Days of Heaven here, to create what may be the most cerebral war film ever made; it not only deals with the conflict between soldiers, but ostensibly with human nature, the environment, and God himself.

The New World

What has appeared to me as his least appreciated film by general audiences, the retelling of the Pocahontas cartoon features most of the same enigmatic and yet natural style featured in Malick’s previous film (so if you’ve made it this far, you MIGHT make it through the sometimes annoying romance story on display here). 

…At this moment (after recently viewing it for the first time), in simple terms, it is Pocahontas meets John Smith, the story that most in the United States already have learned as younglings.  It truly is beautiful, complete with narration and a lack of on screen dialogue (essentially MALICK), yet filled with dealings of a love triangle I have trouble avoiding a “scoff cough” at (the love triangle in Days of Heaven is much more enticing).  That’s not to say it isn’t an enthralling picture; it truly is an amazing look at the first encounter between two worlds (see his other films for more class/culture clashing).

Final note:  I LOVE MALICK

P.S.- left out important and well regard Badlands… because I have not yet seen it; will soon.

P.P.S – look for Malick’s new film Tree of Life this April!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Speaking in Tongues" - Roman Polanski

Ok, we’re totally getting into this, hardcore, all go no quit, Harry Stamper style.  Hopefully from this moment forward, for at least 40 years, we won’t have massive breaks in the talky talk on this page like we just did (unless Roland Emmerich was right about 2012, in which case I’m out to join up with a limo service).

Some peeps should be helping soon, making this place as rich and diverse of a cinema café as Roman Polanski’s filmography.  SPEAKING of which:

“Speaking in Tongues” – Roman Polanski

NOTE:  “Speaking in Tongues”, a fine Talking Heads song, refers to some sort of series to watch based on people involved, commonalities, or another aspect - in this case, a glance inside a director’s oeuvre; look for this often, as I quite enjoy discovering the themes and styles of filmmakers throughout their work.  This time, it’s the man who’s no longer allowed in America ever since his rape charge in the early 70’s…. but let’s not delve into this little side note (his interesting and slightly tumultuous and tragic life could take a while) and instead look at the MOVIES!

I decided to take a look at some of the films he made between the 60s and 70s.  Even though Polanski was fairly young at this point, these could be regarded as some of his greatest works, and some I have to admit I am fairly enamored with.


 The most enigmatic of the bunch, Repulsion represents the Polish director’s first English language film.  Catherine Deneuve stars as a shy, isolated woman undergoing the titular action, apparently terrified by the opposite sex.  After her sister leaves for a trip, she conjures up frightful images of home invaders and violent acts in her apartment, all of which are completely imagined… or are they?  Don’t expect clear answers in this psychological thriller, as it appears to be less about plot and more about suspense (of which there is plenty).

Rosemary’s Baby (aka "The other one about an isolated woman in an apartment")

People always have asked for a “really” scary movie around Halloween, something that will entertain their desire to get freaked out and then proceed to act like they didn’t.  Had I seen this movie before the last time I was asked this, it would’ve been one of the prime recommendations.

Rosemary Woodhouse (never knew Mia Farrow was ever that young) just moved into a nice apartment with her film-star-wannabe husband, has some nice neighbors, and wants to have a baby: sounds primo, except that her neighbor might be satanic… just details?  Not for Rosemary, who’s suspicion of a conspiracy centered around her and her unborn child grows throughout this truly, TRULY, creepy and chilling film.


 All three of these films are primarily listed in chronological order (1965, 1968, and 1974 here) but I would add the secondary order of quality: if the first two films were a 7 and 8 respectively, this would be a well-deserved 9 (maybe 10).  Polanski comes back to the U.S. just close to 5 years after his wife’s brutal murder to make this film noir with his signature European style.

Jack Nicholson stars as Jake Gittes, a private eye who very much seems like an anti-hero, but continually comes to surprise the audience and other characters as he assists the recently widowed Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) in discovering the truth behind her husband’s murder.  Without giving too much away, it involves disturbing family relations, crazy director cameos, a plethora of water, sliced noses, and Little Italy…. I mean Chinatown. 

What really gets me, without belaboring on this subject, is that I had no idea where this film was going, how it would end, and above all, how completely enthralled I was in this original story from more than 35 years ago.  It’s old but still fresh, and yet Hollywood can’t find anything to compare or compete; time to yell “Yah!!!” if you’re a fan of the Ouija board becoming a movie (and if you did just yell, shame on you).

All three of the early films by the diverse director cement his ability to create a fantastic thriller, among other things (for recent proof of this, see Ghost Writer).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

“Memories Can’t Wait” – Irreversible

A story that involves characters preparing for nightlife, speaking on the subject of interpersonal relations, engaging socially at a party, undergoing tragic happenstances, and committing acts of vengeance, might reek of simplicity, familiarity, and the unforeseen universe in which Woody Allen directs a “Death Wish” movie.  And how negative can it get when the film ends with two main characters getting arrested….OOPS, I forgot the mandatory SPOILER ALERT!!!!...or did I?

If one has ever heard about this visceral tour de force, it would not be without the fact that it proceeds in reverse order.  Unlike in “Memento” where ostensibly the viewer has memory depravation ala the main protagonist and a story that can proceed backwards chronologically with the end truly acting as the finale, here exists a narrative that seemingly does begin with the third act leading to the first act.  However what we truly get (after certain mysteries are resolved) is the prescience to see the “irreversible” actions the characters commit which lead them down the disturbing path they unknowingly take.  In essence, we helplessly see their fates.

Full of flowing camerawork with a gritty flavor, the film truly proceeds from hell to heaven; if you can get through the first half, you’ll be completely fine with the last. That’s not to say it’s easy; with a relentless centerpiece displaying a brutal sexual assault in one continuous shot, this film will make watching “Requiem for a Dream” like viewing “Telletubies”. This is not a film you informally suggest to the gal pals, the fam, the significant other, the church group; difficult to suggest watching it with anyone really, let alone YOU! It is a film you must be prepared for.

Some will argue that this film teeters on becoming utter cinematic trash with its flowing, nauseating camera work constantly examining the cultural gutter of Paris with displays of seemingly constant violence. Reportedly even a total of 200 people walked out of the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which may be due to the added effect of a 28khz sound that can be felt but not heard (said to cause a feeling of discomfort and is also associated with earthquakes). This appears to be all a part of director Gaspar Noe’s plan (who just recently released his first film since this, “Enter The Void”), giving the audience relief and peace eventually towards the end (beginning) of the film. Throughout we receive every emotion, and perceive a grandiose nature of the inevitable events that take place for these characters in one night.

Calmer situations occur as the movie progresses, which seem to be in some instances lacking in vitality.  Overall the movie is truly unique and effective in driving home emotions.  This film may only ever have one viewing by me, but that does not detract its value; one may only be able to give it just that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Name of this Blog is The Talking Ed

I have been pondering and wondering and thinking and many other ings as to by what method I’ll get this thing started; alas, nothing whatsoever.  Maybe its just procrastination, or the lack of desire to jot words when I could easily speak them (much better at talking…or talking too much… obviously, look at the blog’s title).  However, I realize that to get this thing going, I have to GET THIS THING GOING.  Therefore, its time to finally open up with something good, great, wonderful, honest, and pure:


I’m oblivious as to why I even bothered to say that, so cliché.

This is the Talking Ed speaking (or just Talking Ed, losing the definitive article saves lives) and I'm here to give you my take on films, cinema, new movies, old goodies, cult classics, indies, wings, and if we're lucky, maybe some other things (see what I did there; stick around, there's more fun to come). 

In all seriousness, seriously, I’m hoping to generally review and write about:

  • New films about to come out on home video
  • Classic/aged gems you may have missed
  • Films in a series by director/theme of my choosing (or if you’re good and lucrative in some way, yours)
  • Oddities (possibly completely random selection by me…or once again, the somehow-putting-monies-in-my-pocket you)
      • I kid about me wanting money from you (lies, I want it, but you don’t have to give it to me in exchange for your participation here; that be FREE)

We’ll just play the rest by ear… or actually, we might be playing it all by ear.  I really do/will encourage any participation (critiques, comments, slander) that you’d like to bestow here.  Hopefully you find some sort of redeeming qualities in the page, and I’ll try hard (maybe my best) to make it worth your while. 


That was a “Talking Heads” reference; you may find a lot of those, along with references pointing towards a talking horse.  Partially random, but not really (hint: BLOG TITLE).