If La Dispute lyricist and singer Jordan Dreyer were a film director he would fit nicely in the mould of Hirozaku Koreeda or a similar detail-focused director, one who uses the smallest, most inconsequential objects and actions as a prism through which to contemplate the incomprehensible depth of a relationship, the way it encompasses every nook of one’s life down to the atomic level, the way objects and experiences take on new import when they punctuate a love affair: a kettle boiling on the stove, wind slamming a door shut, creases on a woman’s skin.
I know it’s unseemly, bordering on blasphemous, to question the artistic vision of a director like Stanley Kubrick, a true perfectionist whose legendary focus and attention to detail extended far beyond his work and into subjects as inconsequential as the cardboard boxes (30:14) in his archive. Like his boxes, Kubrick crafted his films to be exactly what he wanted them to be and nothing else, bringing his ideas to screen with remarkable clarity.
In The Men’s creative trajectory, change has been the only constant. From the abrasive noise of Immaculada and Leave Home, to the Brooklyn indie-rock sheen of Open Your Heart and the deep-fried country cool of New Moon, their tonal shifts have been as drastic as they have been unexpected. With each new The Men record comes a sense of genuine anticipation for discovering the direction in which they’ve taken their sound.
Woody Grant is a character Bruce Dern has worked 54 years to play. Though the grizzled actor’s longevity is self-evident, his career highlights, the kind that turn an actor from respected journeyman to household name — an impassioned lead performance in Silent Running, an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor in 1979’s Coming Home — have been relatively few and far between.
Jim Henson’s Muppets have always conjured entertainment through imagination, ever since they began on television in 1976. Few sights demand the suspension of disbelief like a bright green felt frog stage-managing puppets in a variety show, but once you get over the hurdle of believing that such an absurd situation is plausible in the first place no amount of impossibility can break you out of it. With masterful puppetry and characterisation bringing these creatures to life so believably, technicalities like visible rods and the fact that Muppets are always shot from the waist up easily sink behind the fog of imagination, as does the ever-present inkling that just out of frame stands a human puppeteer.
“Subtle” probably isn’t the first word anyone would use to describe The Castle, given the crudeness of both its construction and its humour, but no other Australian comedy boasts a script as intricately crafted as Working Dog’s 1997 family comedy. In a similar fashion to the work of Mel Brooks and the Marx brothers, The Castle is a perfectly calibrated joke machine, firing off laugh after solid laugh almost non-stop for 85 minutes.
Interrogating a topic as monumental as the nature of love itself, Spike Jonze’s off-beat and whimsical Her exposes raw, emotional truth under layers of high-concept science fiction, using a futuristic, technological spin on the classical boy-meets-girl story to encapsulate a very human experience: falling in love when you’re least prepared for it.
One day in 1995 I happened to find my older brother watching the video clip for No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”, and something about it stopped me in my tracks. My initial attraction to the clip, and to No Doubt, would almost certainly have been an attraction to Gwen Stefani: her raspy, baby-doll voice; her bare midriff and platinum blonde hair accentuated by the high-contrast 90s cinematography; her palpable fuck-you punk attitude hitting all the right buttons for an 11-year-old boy. But on another level, somewhere deeper, she was planting ideas that have stuck with me ever since.
Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) reveres beauty above all else, and in his work as an auctioneer and marchand d’art he has handled some of the most gloriously beautiful artifacts of human creation: a Galileo telescope, luxuriously handcrafted antique furniture, paintings by old masters. Yet the greatest manifestation of beauty eludes him. Oldman, passionately devoted to his work and fastidiously averse to human contact, has never known the touch of a woman. As director of one of Europe’s pre-eminent auction houses of high art and antiques, he can spot a forged Christus or Goya in seconds, re-evaluating a would-be original worth tens of millions of dollars as a mere fake, below the attention of galleries, museums and high-flying private collectors and worth considerably less money.
Over the course of his career as one of Asia’s most prominent directors of wuxia cinema, Tsui Hark has regularly mined China’s rich history for subjects upon which to apply his technologically advanced, boundary pushing wire fu action formula.