Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Discovery #15

High Places - High Places vs Mankind (2010)

Can you welcome us? Lift us up? Change our minds? Make us love? Can you give us a hand? Stoop down with full lips? Break that ache? Make us forget? Can you reach inside? Turn the screw? Pitch the field? So that no one kills? Can you eagerly taste? The dream that's real? High five the sun? Find redemption? Can you change your past? Bring revolution heat? Deep from your soul? And repeat repeat? Can you drive out hate? Embrace everyone? Serve them full? Starve out the cold? Can you find honesty? Within tomorrow's view? Give up deceit? Blaze into the hue? Can you arbitrate? Instead of maim? Shake the enemy's hand? And find ways to relate? Can you push back the way? Hunt devouring? Watch the smoke rise? Hear the bonfire sing? Can you search for it? The life you wish? Discover high places? Because they're a gift?

Hotel - Mike Figgis (2001)

Mike Figgis is a dream filmmaker. That means he makes movies about dreams, weird places that only can come from the the tiny corners of the imagination. I know that most of us are only aware of him because of 'Leaving Las Vegas', Nicholas Cage's primordial assault on hollywood but so much has passed since then and Figgis has evolved so dramatically that people need to reacquaint themselves with one of the most unique visionaries in American film. For me it all started with 'The Loss Of Sexual Innocence', a series of multiple vignettes that overlap and distort perception but ultimately create a incredible display. When I saw it ten years ago I was astounded and it really affected the way I looked at film afterwards. Hotel is probably as close to the tenor of that film as any others he's made throughout his career. Set in a Venetian hotel on the Lido the film follows a crew of filmmakers who are making an adaptation of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy 'The Duchess of Malfi'. In the midst of it all strange characters come in and interweave stories of assassination and documentation and cannibalism. But what is really interesting, if that doesn't catch your fancy, is the way that the movie is made. Stripped down and shot digitally, it's extremely beautiful because of the technique and that's all Figgis. He built these incredibly light-weight steadicams and he shoves the cameras into the action with intimate acquaintance and I just can't seem to get enough. I love diving right into the scene as if you're a fly that can perceive it from any vantage point. The actors all pull it off with supreme professionalism, especially considering that there was no script, only a simple idea that they all worked toward creating the finish product together. It has Figgis's unmistakeably deft touch though and I can't help but wonder how many people he's driven crazy over the years with his chaotic passion. It's a mess at times, you can't throw this many people together with very little guidance and not expect that, but in the end it comes with a very amazing sensibility that you rarely see on the silver screen these days.

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