So the thing about OCPD- the thing that makes me want to run naked through rainbows and stab myself in the face in equal measure- is the schedules. By the very nature of OCPD, I should have made my way through my collection of films, alphabetically of course, about four years ago- but as my brain sporadically enjoys exploding and telling me that I’ve done something wrong, I always find myself restarting, back at the beginning. Same pyjamas; same shampoo; same marshmallow breakfast cereal; same films. So these are the films that I can watch over and over again… not because I have an intense and unnatural film-based craving for French noir, chilly vampires and floppy loincloths, but because my brain melts when I accidentally sleep on the wrong side of my face. These are the films that I can watch over and over, simply… because I have to.
13 is the story of a Georgian immigrant working to support his family in France, any promise of a more beautiful life steadily being lost to the daily toil for the purpose of sustaining a meagre existence. Shot entirely in black and white, this wonderful French film follows the story of Sebastien as he overhears one of his customers discussing a forthcoming invitation to play a game, to win a great deal of money. Following his customer’s timely death: a bitterly dark, yet somehow humorous end to the cochon whose life by the sea delves repeatedly into drug-induced escape- Sebastien steals the invitation and follows the instructions, not quite sure what to expect, but knowing that at the end of it lies the promise of a better quality of life.
The story becomes unbearably tense oh-so-quickly, the grim tone of the film is emphasised by the common, relatable action the character takes; he moves away from the impolite gentleman on the train, he unbuttons his trousers to nap in the hotel room. The sheer monotony of his journey is undoubtedly significant, and is a great strength of the film, but it is his unknown destination which keeps us fascinated. As his journey progresses, he finds a trail of directions which he continues to follow, eventually finding himself in the company of men who break his shoes, and drive him to a remote destination.
From here the sweat fills my palms from sheer anticipation every time. Having seen this film repeatedly, I know what is to come, but it never loses its impact. The noticeable lack of any particular music, coupled with the visual lack of colour allows the viewer to fall deeper into the mindset of the characters we are soon to meet. The men at the house seem accustomed to their surroundings, and are surprised by Sebastien’s arrival. Having informed these men that their previous participant had passed away, he asks if he may be excused should the game not suit him. The men do not change their expression.
‘You gotta play now’
From here the sheer dreary tone of the film serves to heighten the most subtle of nuances; for the participants of the game you can see every tremor, feel every flick of the light bulb. The game is revealed in simple terms, a twisted version of Russian Roulette, the starting signal ironically a bulb being brought to life. The tension simply pours from the room, the silence as the players wait grows longer every time I watch the film. Ah! The anticipation, the intrigue. Our film is suddenly not a story of a character chasing an elusive dream, but a highly distressed representation of desperation and inescapable pressure, ‘A filthy business of murder’. The sheer apathy of those betting, set against the mindset of the players is wholly unique, and creates a sense whereby we come to understand the characters because of absolute under representation of them. The subtle nature of the entire film is where it finds its utmost power; the understated sense of pressure is present within the viewer and keeps the anxiety at hand right until the very end. The emotion of the actors is purely incredible, and above all else, this strength of this film lies within its pure realism, its pure tension; not created by the rambunctious drama of Hollywood, but by the simple waiting for the flick of a light bulb.
This is absolutely one of my favourite films and even though I come to watch it via my self-induced indoctrination, I can never tire of it. As a result of this I nearly put my fist through the screen of my laptop when I read that this film was due for a remake, and will star the likes of 50 Cent and Ray Winstone as main characters. I’m trying very hard, but I can hardly think of two actors who are less subtle in presence and acting ability- even if I scanned the entire breadth of the world and used digestive biscuits as bait. And that’s some serious searching. The beauty of the original is in its subtlety, and the originality of the idea. A real connection to the story is made without an unnecessary amount of emphasis, and I dread to think how many explosions the remake is going to have in it. I can only hope that people who go to see the new film will have the intelligence to also check out the original, but then again they might have too much trouble working out how to turn on the DVD player, or how to open a tin of beans.
10/10 – I’ve seen this film a hundred times and I still love to watch it. It’s going to take a whole lot of cocaine for me to willingly accept it any other way.
30 Days of Night
As I seem to have splurged my love for 13 over several long paragraphs, I will keep the following two film reviews short and sweet. Short, as 30 Days of Night is not, and sweet like watching blood soak into snow is… at least for the first 20 times. The film shows the story of Barrow, Alaska which every year is submerged into 30 Days of Night due to its extreme location in the North of America. This year several terrifying and unexplainable events begin to take place… all communication to the outside world is cut off, any method of transportation is mysteriously destroyed. And the source of it all? Vampires, of course!
At first watch, the use of magnificently vicious vampires was genuinely refreshing, and I still get a little shiver from the first shot of their messenger, highlighted against the grey background of the forthcoming darkness. I put this down to my love of general freakiness, but find the parts in-between the vampires ripping people’s throats out to have just become so tedious to watch. It’s snowing and the main characters have a ‘plan’? Wonderful! Wake me up when Josh Hartnett starts to dissolve.
6/10 – I enjoy Josh Hartnett turning into a pile of ashes, but also have to go and slow roast the carcass of a walrus for about two thirds of the film, just to have something better to do.
300 is an epic (and I don’t use that word lightly) – epic – tale of the Spartan 300 led by King Leonidas, who ‘take a stroll’ against the powerful Xerxes who threatens to control all of the known land. The most beautiful backgrounds envelop every scene- every shot is literally like viewing an ancient painting. The story line is powerful and engaging, and the deeply moving musical score cradles this visual spectacular, and in very simple terms creates a very, very exciting movie.
The film is essentially a visual masterpiece, and prevents you from looking away even from a tiny television screen covered in Shaun the Sheep trinkets. I still love to watch this movie, the story is pulsating and incredible to watch. The battle scenes are particularly wonderful; watching severed limbs float through the air in slow motion is just genuinely something I can never get bored of.
9/10 – A great, epic movie. Fantastic with popcorn, it just swallows you whole.