Archive for 2000s

Burn After Reading

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23 October, 2008 by Ally

WARNING: This review may or may not contain sensitive information. If you want to know absolutely nothing before seeing the film, it is recommended that you do not read this.

Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008

Burn After Reading is the latest film by the Coen Brothers, the two-headed director known to their friends as Joel and Ethan. It’s not an easy one to categorize, other than to say it’s “a Coen Brothers film”. You could say it’s a satirical screwball farce which blends verbal wit, visual gags and moments of genuinely shocking violence. You could say that it’s a high-tech screwball modernization of The Big Sleep, in that it’s difficult to explain but easy to enjoy. The gist of the story is as follows:

CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) furiously quits his job after being handed an unexpected demotion. As revenge for this injustice, he begins writing a salacious memoir. He is unaware that his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair and intends to divorce him. Having been advised to do so by a divorce lawyer, she secretly copies all his personal and financial files to a blank CD. When the lawyer’s forgetful secretary leaves said disc at the gym, it falls into very much the wrong hands. The wrong hands in question are Hardbodies gym employees Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt). They decide to seize the opportunity and attempt to blackmail a deeply confused and increasingly furious Osbourne Cox, assuming that they’ve got their grubby little mitts on “secret CIA shit” and not just the egotistical rantings of a lowly analyst. Continue reading

Everything Will Be OK

Posted in Animation, Film with tags , , , , , , , on 14 September, 2008 by Ally

Don Hertzfeldt, 2006

Don Hertzfeldt is the creator of cult classic Rejected, which charted the fictionalized breakdown of the animator in a series of hilarious, increasingly bizarre (and very quotable) vignettes, all supposedly made for advertising but rejected outright. Everything Will Be OK refines the animation techniques and tells a genuinely affecting story. It depicts the life of Bill as he undergoes treatment for an unspecified mental condition. His mundane existence gradually becomes a terrible trial as he suffers from hallucinations, surreal dreams and loss of bodily control.

Hertzfeldt’s drawing style is simplistic, animating stick figures directly on paper, with lighting effects and still photographs adding fascinating textures. Bill’s mental disorder is represented by various “windows” on the screen, achieved with multiple exposures and other old fashioned in-camera effects. The piece itself is reminiscent of a silent film, with voice-over narration instead of lip-synched dialogue in all but a few dream sequences. All of the drawing and most of everything else is done by Hertzfeldt himself, taking him several years to make each short film. Continue reading