Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper ★★★

‘I just want to get the bad guys, but if i can’t see them I can’t shoot them.’

BRADLEY COOPER delivers a spectacular performance in this suspenseful contemporary account of war; however, it is difficult to assimilate this film in a black and white sort of way – good or bad. Ironically, that is how Eastwood presents war – good guys and bad guys with nothing in the middle. A simplistic, blindly patriotic interpretation of an extremely complicated subject matter combined with a gross alteration of the truth, this film undoes its achievements in terms of cinematic spectacle through the annoying yet inevitable presence of political and moral concerns.

Much akin to the famous ‘shutting your butt down’ interview with Quentin Tarantino, to what extent is a director held accountable for the possible political and moral implications their film has in the real world? With movies such as The Interview causing worldwide uproar and panic, Quentin Tarantino and all other directors must surely understand the empowered position they hold in delivering messages through their art form. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has invited a whole host of questions regarding the position and the responsibilities of a director in the wider society.

Ultimately, American Sniper delivers a message that the patriotic American is good, and the hateful, evil Muslim is bad. It is a film that instills hatred, propagates the US army, and hails a former navy SEAL as a hero due to his hatred being so strong that he supposedly killed more than 255 people during his career. In his book, Chris Kyle, the protagonist of the film, described killing as ‘fun’, and something that he really enjoyed. He also did not hold back from expressing his severe hatred of Iraqis, calling them ‘savages’. Of course, the film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if Clint Eastwood’s Chris Kyle was like the real man; in fact, it is almost futile to mention that this film is based on a true story as the film is so far removed from the truth. For this reason, although some impact might be lost, thinking the film as entirely a work of fiction might allow a cinema goer to enjoy the film more, without any moral and political crises.

American Sniper opens with a tense moral dilemma, which most of us have already seen in the heart pounding trailer. Shoot the kid or not. I am pretty sure that every time that trailer has been played, an overwhelming silence fills the room, as each person listens intently to the heartbeat, the heavy breathing and the few words spoken over comms. That feeling of suspense is present throughout American Sniper, heightened by a tremendous performance by Bradley Cooper. Although it is hard to ignore the political sentiments and moral ambiguities in the film, Eastwood really does bring the horrors of war home. It is an exploration of Chris Kyle’s extremely troubled mind and how to deal with it, veterans being a topic of expertise for Eastwood as seen in Flags of our Fathers. Eastwood documents Kyle’s life from wanting to be a cowboy, to witnessing 9/11 on television, to joining the SEALS and becoming ‘The Legend’.

This film oozes patriotism; it might as well just be a 2 hour show of bugles sounding against an American flag which is swaying in the wind in slow motion. Nominated for 6 oscars, including best picture, this film is far more controversial, provocative and egotistic than Fox News…in fact, Fox News probably have this film listed as one of their favourites.

Taken as a stand alone movie, without politics, American Sniper is a decent, edge of the seat war film (that still blows smoke up the arse of the US). Take the film within its political context and it is a misguided form of propaganda to further create a dichotomy between east and west, and which, intentionally or otherwise, will instill more hate and racism in our own countries. In fact, this hate and racism has already erupted in response to this film.

An exciting, suspenseful war movie whilst watching that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth upon reflection.

 

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Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ★★★★

‘This was the last move in a master plan. A plan long in the making.’

PETER JACKSON delivers his final stroke as Bilbo, Thorin and the dwarf company encounter dragons, elves, orcs, and every single nasty being we have previously seen on Middle Earth. This is an epic close to a truly immersive world.

The first two films of The Hobbit trilogy firmly established these films as fundamentally different to The Lord of the Rings. The films appeal to a predominantly younger audience hence the obvious and frequent use of slapstick humour, the clear CGI created monsters and ghouls and Martin Freeman, a socially awkward actor who manages to provide comic relief during any emotional scene. Nonetheless, Peter Jackson has elongated (severely) Middle Earth’s life span and he has done this to great effect, holding on to the formidable battle scenes, the emotional interjections delivering an aesopian message, and the heart pounding speeches that we have now come to associate with Middle Earth.

Although an 8 and a half hour trilogy that takes longer to watch than to read the actual book demonstrates how Jackson might have got carried away with his Middle Earth love affair, ultimately who cares? Middle Earth is iconic, immersive and utterly brilliant when brought to life by Jackson.

Martin freeman unfortunately doesn’t deliver in this film, being unconvincing and awkward during particularly emotional moments of the film; however, luckily he is propagated by good direction, the breathtaking set, and other big-name previous Lord of the Rings cast members such as a more wise, chiselled, blue-eyed (he is brown-eyed in The Lord of the Rings) yet younger Legolas, played by Orlando Bloom. Thorin played by Richard Armitage rallies his band of dwarvish men with a coarse voice and a big fucking sword in a performance worthy of a Dwarf king. And guest appearances contribute to the comedic effect, consequently rendering this trilogy as one not eyeing up any oscar or award, but being content in delivering another film about a hobbit who has walked really far…and back again.

Ultimately, this film sets out to satisfy a longing audience. Tears, laughs, anger and non-stop action, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the best of the three. No doubt, you will all go and see it.

 

 

 

Panama Red at The Gladstone Arms, Borough ★★★★

(Images courtesy of: www.kaamilah-nahaboo.com)

(Images courtesy of: http://www.kaamilah-nahaboo.com)

‘When you closed your eyes, you could have been anywhere.’

THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF PANAMA RED. And the audience that packed out the downstairs of this hidden pub in the heart of Borough firmly shared this belief.

With pints in hand and Pieminster pies (worth a trip, even if it’s just for one of these) on every table, you would have rightly thought you were in a quiet London pub on a Tuesday. But as 9 o’clock struck and the lights went down, we were grabbed by the scruff of the neck and thrown into the middle of an Arizona evening, driving fast with the top down, aiming right for Hollywood.

Hollywood was the peak of Panama Red’s seven-song set; a catchy track that got the audience going, who loved every note, ever since the first string was plucked.

For forty-five minutes, Panama Red filled The Glad with a timeless, relaxed sound, created effortlessly by this quintet, whose vocals rolled off each other just as easily as each of their songs rolled into the next. Purple Bees was a fan favourite, with some demanding it twice. Regulars of The Glad seemed to enjoy hearing a band with a lap steel; Joe Harvey-Whyte caressed it with great panache, bringing a rich country sound to the end of every guitar riff.

The Glad has hosted big names in the past (Ellie Goulding, Noah and the Whale), and Panama Red certainly did not look out of place here. The venue is big enough to get a good crowd in, yet small enough to retain an intimacy between the audience and band. At intervals, Joe Harvey-Whyte asked after the fans, speaking between songs to involve the crowd who were more than happy to respond. Such a relaxed stage presence put everyone at ease – not only could you almost touch the band, you could almost certainly enjoy a pint with them after the gig.

(Images courtesy of: www.kaamilah-nahaboo.com)

(Images courtesy of: http://www.kaamilah-nahaboo.com)

One would-be fan remarked, “I’m here because I just love their name”. However, in their fifth live gig, Panama Red are quickly showing that there are several strings to their bow.

Panama Red are residents at The Glad every Tuesday this November:

 

For further updates check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/panamaredlondon?fref=ts

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar ★★★

‘We used to look up at the sky and wonder our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.’

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN TACKLES A WIDE ARRAY OF PROBLEMS THAT FACE HUMANITY, but the only thing he achieves is a good looking film. Convoluted, complicated and contrived, this film solely succeeds in the visuals and soundtrack…but nothing else.

This is Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date. It is a lecture attempting to teach grand concepts in the guise of science through a fictionary plot. No green screens were used, and everything was ‘real’ demonstrating the visionary prowess and directional expertise inherent within Nolan. The only other film that could rival this transformative space odyssey is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. Nolan tackles love, time, impending apocalypse, space, space travel, artificial intelligence, the fifth dimension, the fourth dimension, the third dimension..all of the dimensions, and although I commend his efforts in exploring all of these concepts in a three hour film, I also condemn them. As a film, exploring so many larger than life topics successfully and succinctly is near impossible without becoming utterly convoluted and ultimately disinteresting.

The film presents a near to death Earth, where school curriculums have been changed in an attempt to cultivate a new generation of farmers and survivors to further the lifespan of the world. Interstellar presents a middle-aged widowed man and his relationship with his daughter, where paternal love drives all decisions and defies all science and time. Matthew McConaughey is, as expected, exceptional in his role. Jessica Chastain encapsulates the strong female figure – a figure common in all of Nolan’s films – as she works across galaxies with her father. Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway further cement the father-daughter dynamic that is integral to the film, acting as the last remaining NASA members fighting to help the world find an alternative habitable location somewhere in space. The relationships in this film are all believable, the actors are all exceptional – but this is a film that will not win an oscar for acting, nor is it a film to propagate the careers of individual actors. Actors chose to do a Nolan film due to the inevitable revolutionary methods of filming that Nolan uses. He constantly pushes the boundaries on realist films, exploring concepts that often perplex (and haunt) contemporary audiences.

However, as with the vast majority of Nolan’s films, the script is poor. In fact, the script acts in direct opposition to the fine acting and visuals. It takes away from the film to such an extent that the cinema was drawn to laughter at points. If you have to spend each scene explaining (or teaching) a scientific concept that even Steven Hawking cannot understand, the everyday audience member is going to become baffled, and its going to feel more like a Physics lesson than an entertaining film. A poor, predictable and cliched script, the film is instantly fighting an uphill battle, and visuals alone cannot win that. Nolan has taken his ideas too big to the point of being inconceivable (not unbelievable). Nolan makes a film that is intended to be believable, but due to the inconceivable and, ultimately, inaccessible nature of the ideas attached to the film, it is extremely difficult for an audience member to connect.

The difference between Inception and Interstellar is that Inception was able to foster a previously unheard of concept – dream sharing. It wasn’t something that people thought of often in their day to day lives; and in the deep dark suspicious world of global corporate companies, people love to think that these sorts of advanced military shenanigans take place – it feeds back to make Batman an even more accessible creation. Interstellar takes an idea that almost everybody has pondered (high or otherwise) – the ability to defy space and time – but executes the idea in such a convoluted way that it becomes extremely removed from the audience. I was only able to appreciate the film’s aesthetics; the grand concepts were sketchy and the script was weak consequenting in a severe detachment from Nolan’s space odyssey.

Nolan has created a revolutionary film yet again. But he has taken too big a step this time which has invited a whole host of criticism and flaws in the film. Interstellar looks amazing, sounds amazing (thanks to Hans, Nolan’s go to man with music); but, ultimately, it fails to deliver due to a pretty dire script.

The difficulty with starting a directional career so well with films such as Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight Trilogy is that ideas have to be bigger each time. You can’t go much bigger (or complicated) than Nolan’s Interstellar, but this time it hasn’t worked. Perhaps Nolan’s limits have been reached.

neighbourhood noise have heard rumours of a Nolan directed Indiana Jones to be in stall next – as usually big Christopher Nolan fans, lets hope that, if these rumours are true, he is able to deliver!

 

 

Neighbourhood Noise guide to Pitchfork Festival Paris 2014

SATURDAY 1st NOVEMBER – PITCHFORK FESTIVAL’S closing night in Paris. Having previously hosted the likes of James Blake and Belle & Sebastian the two nights before, along with some amazing pre-parties (most notably, Kindness), neighbourhood noise were graced with an equally impressive line-up: Foxygen, Jungle, Jose Gonzalez, Tune-Yards and – act of the moment – Caribou.

An unusually hot summer’s day of chilling in the bars of Le Marais created a perfect and surreal setting for this Autumnal festival. Hopping off the metro, the lights of Pitchfork at the Grande Halle allured a rush of excitable and alternative festival goers – this was to be a festival that would exceed all expectations.

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The venue was overwhelmingly grand. With two stages placed at either end of the hall, people were dancing their way over from one act to the next, with no wait in between to stop the mood – it was neat, tidy and run to precision. In between the two stages, merchandise was being sold, but not just standard tour stuff, (although you never can ignore a tote saying you were at a Parisian hip festival) but antiques such as old French vinyls that intoxicated Pitchforkers were rummaging through. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a playground with swings, a large twister board, stalls offering jewelry, clothes, hats, beard trims and a do-it-yourself party mask construction stall.

Before paying any attention to the music, the artistic atmosphere of the festival alone had got the crowds buzzing. The music, in fact, became an added bonus to an already fun-filled festival. Movement, the Australian band, pleasantly surprised us with their slow heavy bass and impressive, faultless vocal performance; but, there was an obvious distraction in the crowd, who were itching to see Foxygen on stage.

Foxygen are famed for their energetic performances, but we certainly felt exhausted from watching (and trying to keep up with) Sam France’s energy. A little contrived, his performance was reminiscent of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury – it was flamboyant and attention grabbing but that is about as far as the comparison went. France’s voice was lost through all the movement and we found ourselves watching and listening to the backing singers to decipher what song he was actually singing. He was fluttering around the stage, kicking his legs in the air and then occasionally picking up on the song.

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Without a doubt, he is a mesmerizing character and has real charisma – working the crowd was definitely not a difficult feat – but as big Foxygen fans, it was a shame that we had to strain to hear the song through France’s wild and unnatural performance. Let’s face it, if you have to sit on the amps to catch your breath, maybe it’s not a bad idea to just stand and sing sometimes. Having enjoyed their last album, ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors’,  playing “San Francisco” on repeat, there were high hopes for their latest release “…And Star Power”. With its take on modern psyche rock through wonderful harmonies and well written lyrics, Foxygen still have an album that we continue to love, with “Could’ve Been My Love” slowly becoming a neighbourhood noise favourite this year. It was just a shame that the focus wasn’t on the music but rather France’s theatrical performance.

A quick interlude from Jose Gonzalez – not sure why he was placed so late – and the night was back on form with fun and groovy performances from Tune-Yards and Jungle. Big on Radio 6’s playlists this year, both did not fail to provide. It is hard to not move to the beat of both and they certainly put everyone in a good stead for Caribou who was next to follow.

Opening with “Our Love”, the crowds went wild, bobbing up and down to the contagious beat that Caribou has infected everyone with this year. The simple yet spellbinding sounds Dan Snaith creates is one to put you in a good mood, breaking out smiles on usually unbreakable faces. The addition of balloons pouring out above certainly added to the electronic experience, but then who isn’t a sucker for a little kitsch in the early hours of the morning? Caribou is an electronic-lover’s dream to see live and if given the opportunity, make sure to catch him.

Pitchfork Paris was mind-blowing. The scale of the festival was nothing we had experienced before. A great line-up, chilled atmosphere, arts and crafts, with a good amount of drunkenness, some silly dancing and an honest, if too serious, game of human twister, it is everything a festival should be. And its in Paris.

neighborhood noise recommends: La Petite Chaufferie – organic drinks, food and electro music for the perfect pre-gig warm up.

8/10

ZABA! Oval Space played host to Glass Animals ★★★★★

‘The last time we played this, the roof fell down!’

GLASS ANIMALS ARE on the cusp of something truly great. Zaba is a good album, their live performance was entertaining and the group (especially Dave Bayley) have a certain panache on stage that will take them far. But they have a way to go to ensure they survive in their self-created jungle.

Oval Space’s roof didn’t fall down for Glass Animals this time. It is too structurally sound. The space perfectly demonstrates why a venue is so important in the overall experience of a live gig. Despite having a surprisingly low stock of cranberry juice (as a mixer I might add), Oval Space contributed to the mystic, cryptic and quirky nature of the Oxford four-piece band through its charming setting, alluring lighting and effortless nature. It isn’t a place that tries to be cool; it is naturally cool, in true Bill Murray fashion. Set at the foot of a derelict gasworks that is now a landmark in Hackney, Oval Space does any band a favour even before instruments are played with the stunning view, the great service and the fact that you are in a 6000 square foot space dedicated to entertainment.

Glass Animals @ Oval Space

We wondered from the fairy lit terrace bar into the main gig room, drawn in by a melodic voice, reminiscent of Lana Del Ray, along with a basey rift. Laura Cope was the special guest, but she acted more as a timid support act. Cope and her band didn’t have much of a stage presence, becoming more of a background, interval artist as oppose to someone who would stand out and make a name for herself. Having said this, Cope has an incredible voice that is complimented by bass heavy music. With such mellow music, live performances are difficult to master, however, after watching Glass Animals, I’m sure Laura has a few ideas of how to ramp up her seemingly shy persona on stage.

9 o’clock hit. A few double gin and cranberries down and we were ready for the main act, not sure of what to expect. Paul Epworth, the man who has worked with Friendly Fires, Bloc Party, Florence and Adele, signed Glass Animals to his record label ‘Wolf Tone’ as his first signing. However, despite this great name backing them, Glass Animals have been closely compared to the likes of Alt J, Friendly Fires and even Vampire Weekend, with many critics claiming Glass Animals to be pretty unoriginal. This gig would help us decide if these critics were correct or not. 9.30pm, and the band emerge onto the jungle dressed stage that represents their tribal, electronic and bass heavy sounds.

From the off, Dave Bayley blessed the stage with his child like excitement, bouncing around in a disjointed form of dance. The band had clearly altered their album, making it more lively for the live audience. The drummer solos were a welcome addition to transform the previously mellow tunes into a dance inducing frenzy, whilst holding the signature sounds of the well-known songs intact – effortless, just like the venue.

The promising thing about this band is the fact that they (with the help of Paul Epworth) have recognised the need for them to adapt their ‘Zaba’ album for a live audience and still make it work. Bayley’s energy on stage gets the crowd moving, and with his modest and appreciative grin throughout the performance, its difficult to not like this down to earth band. Sure, their sound isn’t as unique as we initially thought, but they have hooked people nonetheless, including us at neighbourhood noise.

Glass Animals have the makings of a truly great band, and I reckon their second album will exceed all expectations following this, bluntly put, good debut.

 

 

Look out for future Oval Space events, with our next Oval Space feature covering their Halloween special film screening of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered’. 

David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ ★★★★★

‘I picture opening her skull, unspool­ing her brain and sifting through it’

DAVID FINCHER delivers yet another meticulously crafted, thrilling film that satisfies all of the sadistic whims of a thrill seeking, twist loving, modern audience.

Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, this isn’t just another ‘wife goes missing husband gets accused’ type of film. Although the latter is the lead line that the production company has run with, Gone Girl cannot just be categorised into such a simple plot line. It is complex, it is shocking, it is utterly brilliant.

Fincher presents the modern marriage in a bleak and terrifying way. Marriage is seen as an inevitable, ironic and gradual breakdown, both mentally and physically. The opening line to the film perfectly captures the rocky marital life that Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are to have – the severe breakdown of communication between the couple prompts the extremely vivid and incriminating opening line spoken by Affleck: “I picture opening her skull, unspool­ing her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy?” Suspect number one is instantly established. But David Fincher would never choose to do an adaptation of a book if there weren’t twists and turns in it.

Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac, even The Social Network have all established Fincher and his style of film; Gone Girl satisfies this criteria, and exceeds it. Fincher doesn’t force the film’s suspense upon the audience, but lets it occur as naturally as possible. A surreal problem is presented in a very real way as each scene leaves the audience feeling extremely unnerved, tense, stressed yet left completely buzzing for more. This is achieved through Fincher’s clever cuts at climactic points, as the long droning music gets louder and louder in a tense scene and then suddenly stops.

The film addresses many topical concerns of a modern audience in a typically Fincher style – great suspense framed within melancholic, dark and mysterious scenes. Media, politics, the justice system and marriage all seem to take precedence over the actual problem – a missing person’s case and a possible murder case. Tyler Perry as a successful lawyer protecting a presumed guilty husband is something that the world has seen time and time again – guilty men getting off lightly through a powerful, persuasive lawyer. Missi Pyle plays a provocative, assumptuous, factually manipulative reporter – extremely topical in the trending videos of certain US news channels. However, Rosamund Pike steals the show in her portrayal of an alluring yet critically flawed wife. We see her mostly in flashbacks, showing her character, Amy’s, marriage to Ben Affleck’s character, Nick. As the flashbacks progress, so too does her character, as Rosamund Pike transforms from attractive and seemingly perfect, to a completely imperfect and fearful wife.

The film subverts the commonly held view that sexual violence and manipulation only occurs to women. However, the overarching theme that permeates throughout the film is not man versus woman, nor is it to legitimise the concerns of those against marriage; instead the film poses the terrifying question: how well do we truly know our loved ones?

What starts as a relatively standard storyline is transformed into a cinematic, edge-of-the-seat epic as with all films that David Fincher has directed. A comparable film could be seen to be Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, however, Fincher’s film is far too complex and unique to have a true comparison. The best advice we can give is to urge people to see this movie – it is the epitome of a mysterious, dramatic film, directed by the don of thrillers.

Disclaimer: newly engaged/wed couples might want to think twice about watching this film…David Fincher himself even noted how the film will “break up millions of marriages”.

 

 

Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. ★★★★★

‘That was pure wild animal craziness!’

NEIGHBOURHOOD NOISE takes you back to 2010 in our version of #tbt….although we didn’t watch this film on a thursday, and although it is far from a new release, neighbourhood noise are recalling films that have changed the industry for better or for worse. We start with Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’.

With the London Film Festival looming, I see it as apt to look back to the film that opened the 53rd London Film Festival all those years ago. Fantastic Mr. Fox was a bold entry into the stop-motion animation world by Wes Anderson. Stop-motion films do notoriously average at the box office, are infamously difficult and stressful to create and generally take the worst and most laborious elements of live and stop-motion in order to produce a film. However, the end product is the apotheosis of pure art rendering the previous concerns as somewhat irrelevant. Fantastic Mr. Fox beautifully used stop-motion to pay homage to a timely classic.

Like the book, this is a film that can be easily enjoyed over and over again. Anderson’s precise yet humorously quirky take on the novel creates an Ocean’s Eleven coolness about it (abetted by George Clooney who voices the insecure yet arrogant fox). The familiar Anderson cast all play a role in this film from Owen Wilson as an apathetic sports coach, to Bill Murray..as a badger, enabling Anderson to have a stamp of ownership over his adaptation through his casting choice. Furthermore, much a tune to a recent jaguar ad, all of the villains in this film are British, aesthetically displeasing characters; all of the heroes are american; and then there is a safa…who must have been cast for some reason. The more times you watch the film, the more the accents become a prominent part, causing the audience to question Anderson’s motives. Not only that, but the soundtrack, containing a substantial amount of ‘The Beach Boys’, adds to an altogether brilliant portrayal of a childhood classic with multiple, timeless themes intertwined throughout the film.

With movies such as the The Boxtrolls being released this month, stop-motion animation appears to have become more and more popular, but the stresses of this film making technique are not sugar coated. It is hard, it is stressful, and it is not very financially rewarding. At the end of the day, however, stop-motion animation creates an enduring beauty that is the epitome of art-in-motion as seen with Fantastic Mr. Fox. That achievement of enduring beauty is what film is all about.

1st watch 7/10

2nd watch 8/10 (ages like a fine wine)

David Michôd’s The Rover ★★★★

‘Australia. Ten years after the collapse.’

BROODY, MYSTERIOUS, DETACHED AND TORTURED, Guy Pearce steals the show, battling nature, humanity…and even a dwarf in David Michôd’s successful post-apocalyptic film, The Rover.

Australia is transformed into a resource rich third world country that illustrates the very real problem of the widening inequality gap prevalent in our society today. In this way, Michôd’s terrifyingly accessible film creates a blurred line between fiction and documentary – a docu-fictionary film, visualising the outcome of contemporary society’s inaction to some of our biggest problems: global warming, inequality and the slow breakdown of social order. Opening the film with “Australia. Ten years after the collapse”, Michôd presents a world fallen apart (although it is unspecified as to whether this is a global collapse, or just the collapse of one nation). Regardless, The Rover maintains a melancholic tone throughout all aspects of the film, from the plot to the characters to the drained landscape.

After an unseen violent altercation between a group of so-called criminals, branded villains for the rest of the film, and the so-called local authorities (also branded villains in the film), Robert Pattinson’s character, Reynolds, is abandoned by his brother and the other criminals with a bullet in his gut. Destruction continues in the opening sequence in a nonchalant kind of way, normalising violence and disorder in this wasteland; Guy Pearce is slumped over a bar by a window as the bandits’ car crashes across the view. Undisturbed to the outside wreckage, Pearce’s clear withdrawal from humanity creates an ironically funny scene, but one that causes concern when you realise what you are laughing at…a world that lacks the ability to actually care. Pearce hears a smash, drags his weathered and tormented body outside and witnesses his car being stolen. So begins the film, and the depressingly simple yet excellently executed plot of a man trying to reclaim his car in a post-apocalyptic society. The story is the gradually unfolding relationship between Erik and Reynolds to the point where you can almost categorise it as friendship – the simplicity of the plot is poignantly countered by the complexity of this relationship.

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Michôd’s film owes much of its success to the acting masterclass provided by both Pearce and Pattinson. The vulnerability of Pattinson compared to the violent cynicism of Pearce expertly compliment one another, creating a dichotomous relationship similar to that of Lenny and George from Of Mice and Men. Pattinson is a product of the “collapse” who has been protected all of his life, hence his moving innocent portrayal. In contrast, Pearce pines for a lost world, where he reveals to a member of the authority that the breakdown of social order caused the breakdown humanity – a beautiful take on the root cause of Michôd’s physically and economically degraded country. Pearce’s character carries a weight of sin around with him: his neck hangs, his shoulders hunched and his body holds decades worth of tension – Pearce creates a character who is the definition weathered as he begrudgingly lives in an uninhabitable world.

The lack of dialogue, the 10 minute long takes and the ominous droning drag of the soundtrack vividly convey the oppressive heat of the landscape. Humanity is drying out, desperate under the intense sun. Michôd creates highly suspenseful scenes whilst maintaining a realistic sense of lethargy emphasising the sweltering heat. The lack of dialogue adds to the mysticism and monstrosity of Pearce’s character who has become accustomed to the heat and violence of the country. He is reduced to an animalistic state, constantly empathising with dogs over humans, as he wanders the desert heading towards nowhere.

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Michôd’s film is a successful vision of an attainable yet undesirable future. Although some of the scenes do drag on, the acting commands the undivided attention of the audience. Both Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson steal the show with their brilliant, gritty, Blakean performances in which innocence is corrupted or guided by experience in order to begrudgingly survive in a decaying country. Whether it is corruption or guidance is left to the audience.

neighbourhood noise are extremely excited for Michôd’s next feature – it has a lot to live up to.

 

 

Joe Guglielmino’s Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La ★★★★

Jean-Claude Van Damme levels of cool as the film takes surfing to Iceland.

Jean-Claude Van Damme levels of cool as the film takes surfing to Iceland.

James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon discovers and describes Shangri-La as a fictional paradise; a search for the apotheosis of utopian existence in our world. It is both within and without, being an island located outside of the known world, yet within it at the same time. The very title of this self-proclaimed psychedelic surf experience is one that mystifies, confuses yet entices the spectator, as it enticed us at neighbourhood noise. The supernatural, mystic nature that surrounded the film’s release were transposed to Victoria Park for the evening in an attempt to capture the worldly experiences that the surfers and crew from Globe encountered. The cryptic directions given online to actually find the film only contributed to this mysticism: ‘The Pagoda, Victoria Park’. It doesn’t help if you naively don’t know what a Pagoda is and are then thrown into an enormous park on the outskirts of London. It also doesn’t help when every other person in the park have no idea what a Pagoda is. Regardless, we eventually stumbled upon the infamous Pagoda in Victoria Park, and when realising that it is a tiered tower building often found in historic East Asia and quite a remarkable landscape in the park, an overwhelming sense of embarrassment waved over us. With our new found knowledge, Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La was beginning to make even more sense. Tiki huts, a free colourful food stand serving indian street food and a free bar set within a culturally aware tent all surrounded the Pagoda, embracing the many different cultures that Globe and the surfers experienced on their travels; an intimate touch to share their encounters with a unknowing audience. Upon arriving, we instantly knew this would be more than just an ordinary premiere of a film – this was to be an experience. A belly dancer allured people out of their comfort zones to join her in her dance and rewarded them with an ominous key; this key unlocked a locker containing Globe surf boards, skate boards and goodie boxes – before the film even began, the event celebrated the way in which surfing is accompanied with a gross appreciation of varying cultures. Four free cobras in, we took our seats on the cushions and rugs provided, and under a reddening sky, the 16mm film began to roll. Globe’s use of 16mm film gave the film an incredibly authentic edge. As the surfers travelled the world from Iceland to Mozambique, each location was captured through long surf scenes accompanied by an inspiring soundtrack. The shots, the surf and the 16mm cameras were the focus of the film as the three combined to create a beautifully poetic representation of an extreme sport. The psychedelic nature of the film was captured in the opening scene where the focus of the film was made apparent: the beauties of surfing. Some of the world’s best surfers were captured in this authentic film leaving the audience’s jaws dropped throughout. The soundtrack in conjunction with the 16mm film created a supernatural feel to the extreme sport, enhancing the poetical and artistic nature of surfing. The surfers travelled the world in search for the perfect wave – the Shangri-La of surfing. Although there was only a slight documentation of the actual travels, the way in which the director uses intermittent shots to capture an aspect of the country’s culture whilst shooting the surfers in action creates a photo montage effect demonstrating the power of film and photography. The focus of the film was to illustrate the artistic effects of 16mm film and how that contributes to the psychedelic surf experiences that the film encourages. The whole experience of this premiere was inspiring; the beauty of surfing as a sport was undeniably present and the coming together of man and nature through film, music and sport demonstrates how the film is the epitome of artistic and sporting talent. Globe proved that Shangri-La can be achieved through creative and interactive art.