Saturday, 12 December 2015
Friday, 11 December 2015
Thursday, 10 December 2015
Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie “Only God Forgives” (2013) is seen by most as the Marmite of cinema – a film that is either celebrated for it’s uniqueness and bold character, or heavily criticized for the non existence of an orderly plot, strange personalities of it’s characters and putrid violent scenes.
However, Refn indeed intended for this movie to not be slotted into a particular genre of film. Yes, there may be violence and action, but it is not portrayed in the way you would expect. Upon viewing, the atmosphere of “Only God Forgives” is ethereal, plus sits on the perimeter of familiar human actions and settings. Jesse Cataldo describes the start of the film: “...starts out in hell, then pushes even further into demonic darkness” (Cataldo, 2013); a film not shy to delve the viewer immediately into it’s strange world. Peter Bradshaw also goes on to explain: “It has its own miasma of anxiety and evil, taking place in a universe of fear” (Bradshaw, 2013) indeed, the world of this film is shrouded in a mist of anxiety and feeling on edge as to what will happen next.
|Figs 2 & 3: An example of mood lighting|
A notable factor are the strong colours and mood lighting of scenes. These are also very closely related Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” (1977) in which the whole scene is lit with a saturated single or combination of contrasting colours. This impacts on the mood and suspense of the scene, aided by the intense music that also can be derived from “Suspiria”. Otherwise dimly lit, these saturated colours also induce the feeling of other worldliness, as in this present moment, all are conscious that the real world isn’t constantly lit with bright colours.
Another major organ that gives this film life are the outrageous violent scenes that don’t seem to make sense. Cataldo describes it as: “...sadistically couching its brutality within a high-style pictorialism that's both hard to watch and difficult to look away from” (Cataldo, 2013) In agreement to this statement, this movie does not shy away from the gory scenes, but they are depicted in such a way that the viewer has a need to keep watching with fascination.
Adding to the ethereal feel of “Only God Forgives”, most to all characters hold a blank facial expression and often stare at each other. As well as this, very little dialogue is spoken throughout. These elements create a sense of confusion, uneasiness and anticipation of something loud to come about. Refn also provides slow, panning camera movement to compliment the sometime seemingly slow motion movement of the characters – and what can be noticed here is a link to God like characteristics; for example, holy, high power figures are often depicted as almost dainty and move slowly to show they are in control. This slow movement that is seen with each character could also suggest that each one has a God inside them.
|Fig 5: Hands|
Hands and arms – scenes of these body parts are introduced throughout – to Chang slicing off Choi’s hand to Julian (Ryan Gosling) looking at his hands and washing them. It’s quite a mystery as to why there is a focus on the hands and arms, but one interpretation can be the masculinity of the male characters, and that being “sliced off”.
Before her death, Crystal openly demeans her son Julian, discussing that his genitelia where smaller than the rest of his brothers, and that Julian is seemingly happy that his older brother was murdered. When asked why Julian accepts the torments, he simply replies “because she’s my mother”. This suggests that the only female he could really be close to was his mother; backed up also that he was tied up by Mai so he won’t touch her.
The “antagonist”, Chang can be seen as the God of this film – controlling the plot and having followers beside him. He also carries around a broken sword and mercilessly slays whoever is in his way, making people fear him. Julian also has visions that his arms are cut off by Chang, and so Chang also mentally makes his presence known in the characters.
The film has a understandably bizarre and confusing plot; Based in Bangkok, Julains elder brother murders a prostitute, but is himself killed by the father. His mother flies over to identify the body, meets Mai and Julian and brutally demeans her son and she authorizes the killing of Choi as revenge. Crystal also learns that Chang was part of her sons murder and plans his assassination, but in the end she is killed herself. Charlie Ling is intent of killing Chang's family, but Julian shoots him before he shoots the young daughter. A small sense of humanity is shown here. Julian once again has a vision that Chang slices his arms off, and the film ends in an almost comical Karaoke session, where Chang sings slightly off key in front of an audience of police officers.
Understandably, Refn created a film that is mind boggling, violent and seemingly makes no sense, yet the environment and strong cinematography indeed make up for these elements. After witnessing “Only God Forgives” its true that it doesn’t fit into a particular genre, and even more so, it will not leave you for a long time.
Bradshaw, P. (2013) The Guardian, (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/01/only-god-forgives-review
Cataldo, J. (2013) Slant Magazine, (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/only-god-forgives
Quinn, A. (2013) Independent, (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/film-review-only-god-forgives-ryan-goslings-bangkok-bloodfest-is-a-hellish-bore-8742691.html
Fig 1: "Film poster" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://www.yourfaceisa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/OnlyGodForgives.jpg
Figs 2 & 3: " An example of mood lighting" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://a.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/cocreate/poster/2013/07/1683424-poster-p-only-god-forgives-ryan-gosling.jpg
Fig 4: "The blank expression" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) https://38.media.tumblr.com/71cb80336948c1e47fb71afae9e2dfcd/tumblr_inline_nshbbhUXS71r6l03d_500.gif
Fig 5: "Hands" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) https://myhandsarealittledirty.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/vlcsnap-2013-12-12-03h33m59s168.png
Fig 6: "Crystal" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) http://dcfilmgirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/kristin-scott-thomas-only-god-forgives.jpg
Fig 7: "Chang and the iconic sword" (Accessed on 08/12/2015) https://thegreatob.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/chang.jpg
Sunday, 6 December 2015
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Friday, 4 December 2015
Thursday, 3 December 2015
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
With some help from Alan, he helped re-imagine my buildings as actual 3-dimensional forms, instead of generic blocks. I'm experimenting more and i'm more happy with this outcome.
Straight away, thrown into the deep end of confusion, hysteria from the thunderous rain and Suzy's desperation to catch a taxi and screeching music that makes whoever is listening want to clasp their ears in frustration, Dario Argento’s American – Italian made movie “Suspiria” (1977) truly is a unique and landmark film in the horror genre. Others may also agree that “Suspiria” (1977) is a blend of head scratching phenomenons and a sequence of questioning every scene.
One of the main aspects that makes the body of the film is the sheer use of strong, bold colours used throughout. The viewers will acknowledge the protruding primary colours: blue, red and yellow, as well as secondary colours such as green and orange. Janet Maslin, in terms of colours, explains: “he (Argento)uses bright primary colors and stark lines to create a campy, surreal atmosphere,” (Maslin, 1977)
These corresponding colours are relatable to the appearance of animation films by, for example, the Disney company as well as coloured comic panels. The array of colours give a more artificial and cartoon like feel.
|Fig 3: Another use of bold colour|
In addition to this, the bright colours resemble that of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's “Black Narcissus” (1947), when technicolor came about for the first time, therefore colour was used strongly and boldly wherever possible. This similarity of appreciating colours and using them to their full potential to convey atmosphere, mood and situation heavily impact “Suspiria” (1977). Much like "Black Narcissus" (1947), and here as Ed Gonzalez states:“Argento's visuals actively evoke a fairy-tale fantastique, engaging and toying with the Technicolor glory" (Gonzalez, 2001)
Lastly, it is generally known that the typical horror movies consist of dark, dismal and dull atmospheres, a night setting and dark, under-lit spaces, and mostly silence in intense scenes. Argento almost reverses this idea in his film, which is truly fascinating.
The second aspect that creates this film is the incredible screeching music. Unlike anything heard in many movies before, the ear-bleeding jumble of an eerie choir, loud knocks, screaming strings and a huge thumping heartbeat like base sound aids “Suspiria”(1977) in it’s unique horror and psychological tormenting production. Even more so, the throat rippling singing and music that rips through your skin ends suddenly into silence when switched to another scene, causing the viewer to almost need to recover as the music still rings in the ears.
The set design plays are large part in this feature, and a recurring, main colour scheme is red. Red, the signifier of violence, death, blood and lust. Red is seen on the walls, as blood, worn as lipstick, on the floors and radiates all around particular scenes. Red is used heavily than the other colours to convey the blood thirsty theme of the film.
|Fig 4: A blue hue|
There is no real conscious plot to speak of, rather, the movie leads on from to scene, somehow connecting to the last. Described by Janet Maslin,“The plot, as transparent as the pane of glass that slices up the movie's first victim, is intentionally ridiculous, and Mr. Argento's direction has the mocking, stylized simplicity of a comic strip” (Maslin, 1977) it is true that “Suspiria”(1977) is somewhat ridiculous with the actions of the characters and sudden gruesome murders, and the “stylized simplicity of a comic strip” (Maslin, 1977) relates to the comic panels mentioned earlier, as well as dramatic camera angles, extreme close up shots of the fear on the main characters faces and rapid camera movement.
The film begins with American ballet dancer Suzy hailing a taxi in a heaving thunderstorm, that immediately sets the film in a negative and uncomfortable light. Pat, who ran away whilst Suzy tried to enter the Ballet academy, is killed by a mysterious being in an incredibly revolting way; an arm suffocates her against the window pane, before being repeatedly stabbed, then stabbed in her revealed open heart, and finally, smashed through the glass ceiling and hung on a cord in a bloody mess. An adrenaline fueled start!
As Suzy stays at the academy, strange phenomenons occur, such as a vast amount of maggots falling through the ceiling, a strange snoring/ whistling sleeper, Suzy fainting, the blind pianist having his throat ripped out by his own loyal dog, Sarah falling to her death in a pile of razor wires, Suzy seeing Sarah nailed to a cross and then coming back to life to kill her by a strange, rotting-skin entity, Suzy stabbing the entity and killing them, and finally, escaping the Academy as it is engulfed in a large fire.
The sudden intense violence and brutal killings that occur at almost random moments adds to the tension of suspecting what will happen next, and a sense of uneasiness for the audience, despite the animated colorfulness of the film. What is also a notable point is the deaths of women; “and the intense violent nature of the murders of beautiful women.” (Don Sumner, 2012) typically, men and male hero's/ villans are killed off,but instead, the “beautiful women” are killed off. In a way, Argento throws away the stereotypical plot and actions of the typical horror film, and flips it on its head. In Janet Maslin's metaphorical description: “and his film's most powerful moments have a way of making one think about open-heart surgery” (Maslin, 1977) the quote literally links to the harsh and squeamish open heart that beats and is vulnerably stabbed; truly relentless.
Argento has pushed the even revered the boundaries for the typical horror film genre. A unique, baffling, intense movie you’d love to hate, “Suspiria” is one on the list to see.
Gonzalez, E. (2001) Slant Magazine, (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/suspiria
Maslin, J. (1977) The New York Times, (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=990CEFDB1F3BE334BC4B52DFBE66838C669EDE
Smith, A. (2000) Empire Online, (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.empireonline.com/movies/suspiria/review/
Sumner, D. (2012) Best Horror Movies, (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.best-horror-movies.com/review?name=suspiria-1977-review
Fig 1: "Film poster" (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.cinemasterpieces.com/92010a/jxc13.jpg
Fig 2: "Pat's death" (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Suspiria/images/Suspiria-047.jpg
Fig 3: "Another use of bold colour" (Accessed on 01/12/15) https://frankzumbach.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/suspiria8_copy0.jpg
Fig 4: "A blue hue" (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://film.thedigitalfix.com/protectedimage.php?image=MichaelMackenzie/susptin2.jpg_29102007
Fig 5: "Suzy"(Accessed on 01/12/15) http://www.screenrelish.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/5751.jpg
Fig 6: "A brutal death" (Accessed on 01/12/15) http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Suspiria/images/Suspiria-051.jpg