Film Notes – La La Land (2016)


When I was young music was more life sustaining to me than the blood that ran through my veins. It was the oxygen that my emotions breathed, it kept me grounded and it gave me a fundamental and direct method for expressing myself. From the moment my parents let me drop the turntable’s needle on their LPs I started cranking the music 24/7 as loud as I possibly could. Their music collection, including Elvis, The Beach Boys and The Beatles, became the soundtrack of my youth. As I became older I picked up my first guitar and although I never had a natural knack for it, I used to try and play my own grunge, punk, metal riffs and blues solos for hours until both my fingers and my ears bled. Finally, after many years of restless anticipation I attended my first music festival and I found my true home amongst the sweaty, seething mass of rambunctious music fans in the mosh pit. It is a cliche but it was not just about the music, it became a whole way of life.

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Film Notes – Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1998)


Coulrophobia [kool-ruh-foh-bee-uh]


1. an abnormal fear of clowns.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is one of those movies that has the mythic reputation of being so bad that they are good. Perhaps, I have no sense of discernment whatsoever, but after having finally gotten around to watching this film, I have realised that it is not so much that the film is poorly constructed, but rather that it is in only too successful in achieving the creation of a ludicrous and absurd carnivalesque nightmare, befitting  a troupe of murderous buffoons from galaxies unknown.

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Film Notes – Manchester by the Sea (2016)

There is no denying it, death is a bitch. And for those left behind grief hurts like hell. When coupled with a guilt fuelled self-flagellation, the constant companions of anguish and despair can be suffocating and intractable. Manchester by the Sea is like a beautiful expanse of ocean. At times the steady motion of its waves are mesmerising and almost serene. But underneath the surface rages thunderous forces of emotion, sometimes agitating the surface with explosive force but mostly subdued, muted by the pressure of it’s own immense weight. At the beginning of the film, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) returns to his hometown of Manchester when his brother passes away. When he arrives at the local hospital, we alight in this town along with him and begin a journey of discovery as the personal narrative of Lee and his relationships to family, friends and the community are slowly revealed to us.

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Film Notes – Pepe Le Moko (1937)


I must admit that I only have a basic understanding of what constitutes Poetic Realism. In fact, it would appear that Poetic Realism is harder to pin down to a specific set of criteria than some other movements such as German Expressionism or Soviet Montage to begin with. The very term Poetic Realism appears to be an oxymoron to me. Poetry is the stuff of figurative language, it is the metaphors and the images used to express those things which are hard to articulate in a matter of fact way. In film, this would involve the use of formal devices to create surreal or subjective images and perspectives, for example. In opposition to that is realism which suggests that there is very little intervention between what you see on the screen and what would exist in the real world. It begs the question as to how something can be both figurative and objective at the same time. I wish I had paid more attention to the formal qualities of Julien Duvivier’s Pepe Le Moko because apparently it is one of the quintessential films representative of Poetic Realism. Maybe then I would have a better idea of how these seemingly opposite aspects came together.

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