Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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This is a film that makes me think of 'real' people and life, rare for an American film- I guess the message is that every moment and station of life is a kind of limbo- the space between learning something new and reacting to it (or not reacting to it)- give it time, fellow viewer, through its slightly stolid first half, and it proves truly rewarding
A film that launched a thousand indies, Sayles maximises low production values with witty dialogue and fleshy, reflective characters, and also shows what a dab hand at direction he can be in an odd little basketball scene! Quite remarkable how Sayles, in this his first film, so deftly explores the political through the personal
A book-keeping Billy Liar starts his own Fightclub-like crusade worthy of the Unibomber....
Christie Malry's Own Double Entry should get a rare reprieve from the vaults of British film obscurity, a rare thing in British film, particularly as it came out during the attack of British idiotic indies, out-and-out failures,
mostly funded by the Taxpayer (e.g Shooting Fish, Rancid Aluminium, Lock,
Most of those films came and went. But Christie Malry, based on the novel by cult English experimentalist novelist BS Johnson, and in which Lock Stock actor Moran plays the lead, is the best of these, although ironically it was never released or given any attention, presumably due to its playful, po-faced attitude to terrorism, which would never play post 9/11 (it was made before those events). This in itself is ironic, as Christie is an interesting study in terrorism, a sort of book-keeping Billy Liar who starts his own Fight Club-like crusade worthy of the UniBomber, which attains an added poignancy post 9/11- after all, in the film, made remember in 1999, Christie's surreptitious efforts help start the second Gulf War (and he is portrayed by the media as an Arab).
I understand some of the criticisms of the film made by others below, such as Christie's unbelievable jobs, although Christie's bizarre double-entry system- e.g. "debit: Wagner's Lack of Sympathy: Credit: girl at butcher's shop smiled at me", to my mind makes him a more believable character- after all, he is hardly a balanced character.
I can add some more myself (the failure to update the seventies novel to the present decade, leading to weird anachronisms- a result of lack of funding or attention in art direction?). But I also believe the film is a brave attempt at finding intelligence and depth in the British indie.
Tickell is clearly an admirer of Greenaway, and this shows throughout, in the film's theatrical flair and sense of the visual, as well as the oddball eroticism, all part a way of understanding Christie's abnormal psychology. This is particularly evident in the 'historical' sub-plot of the film (the development of double-bookkeeping in Renaissance Milan by a priest with links to Da Vinci).
And I think the acting is marvellous throughout, particularly the Renaisance Italians and Shirley Ann Field as Christie's mother, and Moran, while not a brilliant actor, clearly works hard in the complex task of being Christie (he says it is his best film, although I don't think there's much competition- with the exception of Puritan, another little known British Indie with Moran at its centre).
A film for all those who think they know Greenaway- Belly of an Architect is very Greenaway in its playful intellectualism and visualisation. However, it also has a proper plot, for once, and heart, in the hulking form of Brian Dennehy.
Dennehy really does justify the blurb on the DVD covers, and gives the performance of a lifetime as Kraklite. He IS Kraklite. I have read an interview with Greenaway who said Dennehy really got nto his role, and surprised everyone with such a great, committed performance.
However, in a way, Greenaway shold really have let someone else direct the film. His distant, cold eye, excellent on the definite misanthropyand bustling ideas within the film, has no place for Dennehy's forlorness and pathos, which yet still manages to fill the screen. In fact Greenaway's attitude to Dennehy seems to be that of a tolerant headmaster to a highly gifted prefect- one of respectful, admiring distance.
All in all a definite obscure gem in film, and Mertens does a very Nymanesque soundtrack- if Nyman had spent a few years playing piano in a Belgian bar that is!
It's strange for such an exalted film to have such a left-field plot. A medieval knight literally plays chess for his life with death, and while the game goes on, falls in with a travelling troupe of actors, death stalking them along the way. If it was not for Bergman's quite undeserved reputation for austerity and solemnity, it would be clear this is a playful, comic film.
This film is the best representation of Bergman's middle style, stressing theatricality and pictorialism.
Bengt Ekerot is suitably striking as death, and Max Von Sydow is about as close a modern actor can be to a medieval knight, towering in masculinity, a natural intelligence and stature, with his unworldly distraction. And Bibi Andersson is both beautiful and striking too as the actor's wife.
Still, apart from being a good, high-value romp, I can't quite see how this was so lauded at the time.