John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Princess Mononoke has all the great Miyazaki themes, and in many ways recalls his foundational film Nausicaa: at its heart, the almost impossible task of resolving the clash between nature and culture. The music and visuals are beautiful (within the manga conventions), but even more arresting is the power of the symbolic struggle between the world of men and the world of nature. Nature has powerful gods who can however turn into dangerous demons blinded by pain and anger. Men - and, notably, some remarkable women leaders - seldom help: they transform the wild into the civilized, but usually at the cost of destroying the sources of life. In classic Miyazaki fashion, a tall and elegant but also cold and manipulative female figure (it seems to matter that she is or becomes an amputee) is often an older counterpart to the budding and idealistic young heroine. As human technology develops, its self-destructive capacity multiplies. The struggle for a new balance rests in the hands of two handsome adolescents who are old enough to fight and love heroically, but also young enough (that is, close enough to the innocence of childhood) to hear all the voices and see the need to preserve what is good in both sides. The old natural world must die in the process, but if we choose to do the right thing life may be able to go on.... just.
An engrossing, beautifully filmed, and perfectly paced tale of coming to terms with difficult choices that pit the individual against home and community. The story of the bohemian Jewish woman who returns to London to confront the death of her estranged father quickly re-opens an old wound. And yet, as it turns out, this is less a tale of awkward homecoming than one of liberation, where the true protagonist is not the rebel who fled, but rather the woman who loved her and was left behind. Now married to a kind, upright, honest rabbi, and teaching at a girls' school, Esti (Rachel MacAdams) seemingly has got a good life, but in reality was never given a choice. What makes the film so satisfying is that it depicts the journey of three characters, all needing to go beyond their comfort zones so that their lives and the values of their community may be truly meaningful.
A wonderful horror film that keeps growing in stature over the years. Clever plot, haunting moments of premonition and recall, and a compelling synergy between the two leads, Julie Christie and Jonathan Sunderland, including one of the best sex scenes in film ever. The production is economical but very effective, and Venice in the early 1970s looks refreshingly alive and spontaneous. Las week I saw the film again, loving every second, and today I spent the afternoon trying to accuire get a better quality DVD or Blue-Ray, because earlier transfers were poor, especially the sound quality. Alas, it seems the Criterion version, the one worth having, is not yet available in Europe. Upon returning home, disappointed, I learnt that Roeg has died.
I watched this with an open mind - I had read King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes with much interest - but this film was entirely unenjoyable. All the humanity that Despentes has claimed for downtrodden women and for men trapped in their conventional male roles, and all her claims about the liberating effects of her experience of prostitution and coming to terms with rape, are absent from this grim tale of random violence and random sex. Some scenes are yes interesting and provocative, but the complete lack of human sympathy or sense of justice undermines any claims this may wish to make for abused women. In the end all the hard core does not help, it lacks credibility.
Despite the fact that some of the special effects might have aged, this remains one of the best epic films ever, and a brilliant and utterly faithful adaptation of the novel. It is also a work of love. The music is powerful, and the acting is generally excellent, especially the hobbits and the wizards. Only the elves and their singing look a bit silly, but this is quite inevitable - the actors are only human.