Film Festival first week

Once Upon a Time in the West

Amazing. OK, it was very long and there are some long, indulgent shots of people squinting, but it’s all part and parcel of the Serge Leone experience. It was funnier than I thought it would be, and the story was very involving. I wouldn’t have minded how long it was, because it has an excellent story, but it was getting to be quite late at night and I started dropping off.

There is probably a whole lot of deep and meaningful stuff I could say about the railroad being built, and the way progress changes towns and people but let’s just leave it on: I like trains!

Exit through the Gift Shop

It’s been advertised as the world’s first street art disaster movie. I would agree with that. Ostensibly a movie about Banksy, it’s really a movie about Thierry Guetta, a slightly mad man with a handy cam who became involved in the street art movement. There’s a lot of speculation about whether the events as depicted in the film are real or fabricated but I choose to take it at face value.

We did a learn a little about Banksy, there’s lots of footage of him and other street artists (I am slightly in love with Shepherd Fairey now) sneaking around rooftops at night and putting art up. We saw inside Banksy’s studio and how his stencils are put together. Overall the movie was about the modern art world, and what makes art valuable to people. The conclusion you’d draw from this movie is that hype is all you need. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that in real life, but there is some truth to it. Same as hype working for movies, books and clothing, really.

Anyway, the doco was great fun and I’d definitely recommend it. Lee was a bit worried about the cringe factor and the possible soul-crushing disaster towards the end but it all worked out.

Strange Powers: Stephin Merrit and the Magnetic Fields

So I went into this never having listened to the music of The Magnetic Fields. Well, I’ve heard their stuff in a couple of movie soundtracks, but not like sitting down and listening to them on purpose. I knew of Stephin Merrit because he collaborated with Daniel Handler on the Gothic Archies for the Lemony Snicket audio books. Yeah. Oh and Neil Gaiman appeared in the doco.

I wasn’t disappointed. The doco gave me a love for the music of the Magnetic Fields and specifically for the voice of Stephin Merrit. It wasn’t a documentary about any big event or anything, just a wee history of the band and interviews with people about them and the band members talking to camera. Lovely. I queued up a gigantic list of Magnetic Fields music on Grooveshark and have been enjoying it ever since.

Especially this one, Papa was a rodeo:


As a documentary it had a number of failings. The biggest problem for me was the unfocussed nature of the whole thing. Like, they’d show some orcas and the voiceover said “this particular pod of orcas has developed a new and unique method of hunting” and you’re like, oh yeah? Tell me more, and then the movie flicks to footage of dolphins jumping out of the water and then polar bears or something.

To be honest, this movie suffered in comparison to the BBC Life show that I recently watched on Blu-Ray.

That said, it’s an entertaining movie and there was some beautiful footage of whales, sharks, sea lions, and a bad ass mantis shrimp that tore the arm off a crab.

I like this image from it:


5 thoughts on “Film Festival first week

  1. I don’t think the long shots of squinting are indulgent- Leone’s dialogue is always so very sparse that the squinting, the sounds and the staring are a lot of what tells the story. Did you notice how the people who spoke least were the toughest ones? And how as Claudia Cardinale got used to her new surroundings, and toughened up, she talked less?
    Sorry, I studied westerns as part of my Masters degree, so I’m kind of a Leone geek. And OUATITW is my favourite Western.

  2. Hey Ellen 🙂 I guess I used the word indulgent because I was thinking about Lee and how he can’t really cope with slow paced movies. I haven’t made the study of Westerns that you have, but to some people (like Lee) the long slow shots of squinting are a little hard to take.

    I did like the film very much, but the rape scene in the middle makes it not my favourite.

  3. Oh… Good music!!!

    I’ve been looking at interactive graphs of linear relationships until I got all squinty (cool on line textbook for my course, you press the button and the data changes) and wanted to find one nice thing before bed… Ta Jenni 🙂

  4. You’re very welcome, Karen. I’d recommend you track down more Magnetic Fields on Grooveshark or something, you’d really like the song called ‘Zebra’ I think.

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