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Tuesday 9 November 2010, 16:57

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Yes it's that time already, time for me to sit down and review your typically thoughtful and inspired comments on the blog which this time include reactions to Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani's performances in Possession, to Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer's classic 80s outing Into the Night and a rupture of anticipation following my instant reaction to Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan starring Natalie Portman.

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    Comment number 1.

    Well to start off I hated the Clooney version of Solaris but loved The Fountain. The only thing I can say about both films is that you will either love it or hate it, no matter what other films you liked.

    Overlooked film dersu uzala without a shaddow of a doubt. I know this is a bad selling point for you Dr Kermode but for others here, imagine a film that focussed on Yoda and Obi-Wan from Star Wars but 10 times better than Star Wars.

    Primer
    It's about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel by two engineers.
    On the DVD box it pretty much says in one of the newspaper quotes on the back "It's like Memento but directed by David Lynch"
    It's a cracking film and I would suggest it to anyone to watch. But it felt more like Inception to me with the dreams within a dream.

    Croupier with Clive Owen is another one which flopped in the UK but did much better in America.

    La Haine
    One of may fav films of all time and quite a lot of people I know have only come accross it because of me and the same with the original 12 Angry Men.

    Punishment Park is another one of my favs and everytime just blows me away. It is a pseudo documentary of a British and West German film crew following National Guard soldiers and police as they pursue a group of members of the counterculture across the desert.


    Strange Days which I think has been mentioned on here before.

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    Comment number 2.

    Hi Mark. Regarding overlooked classics, can I suggest Fearless, starring Jeff Bridges, directed by Peter Weir. I think this is a simply astonishing film about the guilt a man suffers after surviving a plane crash. It features a great central performance from Bridges, with excellent support from the likes of Isabella Rossellini, Rosie Perez, Tom Hulce, John Turturro and Benicio Del Toro. Briliantly directed and written, this film seems to be virtually ignored but is in my opinion one of the best films Peter Weir has ever done, and this is a man who directed Witness, Picnic At Hanging Rock (a presonal favourite), Master And Commander, The Truman Show, The Mosquito Coast (another overlooked film) and others. A great and vastly under-rated director, like this film.

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    Comment number 3.

    At the Sci-Fi London Film festival earlier this year, I went to see a hungarian SF film called Transmission.

    The central conceit of the film is that all 'transmission'-based technology has ceased to function: TVs,Radios, Computers, Telephones etc, etc. The story centres around a family unit (and extended family) living by the sea attempting to make the best of life: then tragedy (inevitably) strikes...

    It's SF in name but it doesn't fall into the usual stereotypes of the Post-apocalyptic genre - not a Mohawk or lick of warpaint in sight. It had more in common with quieter, low-key SF works of the 70s like "The Man Who Fell To Earth". I don't even know if it ever got a full UK release but I think it deserves a critical viewing, particularly by those a bit jaded by "sci-fi"-themed blockbuster stupidity.

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    Comment number 4.

    #1: Oh yes "Primer"! 100% agree with you there and another "love or hate" film - I got into quite a heated discussion with a work colleague regarding the merits of this film. He couldn't see past the production values, nor could he see the unique points in the story - I think he was looking for a more direct and obvious "SF"-y feel.

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    Comment number 5.

    I saw 'Possession' a few nights ago and was equally impressed and disturbed. I'm totally on board with the idea of it being simply about divorce - It's a fascinating film to dissect as there is so much going on but that central (destructive) relationship is the axis on which everything turns. On a side note, I thought Neill was better than Adjani (although she was also outstanding).

    I can't wait to see 'Black Swan' (one of the only films I missed at LFF, regrettably) but I want to give a second shout for 'The Fountain'. I'm a huge fan of Soderbergh's 'Solaris' and this does serve as a fitting companion piece. Ambitious, intelligent and emotional, is has a career best turn from Hugh Jackman and some stunning photography.

    But onto the really interesting part of this blog - overlooked gems/forgotten cinema.

    1.) Waking The Dead (Keith Gordon, 2000)
    It went straight to DVD here in the UK which sadly means it got A) overlooked by almost everybody, and B) disregarded as a side note in the careers of Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly. As it stands I think it's their best work and the central relationship in the film is achingly real because of their stellar work. Crudup, in particular, is very, very powerful. The film opens with him staring at a TV screen, watching despairingly the news that his girlfriend has been killed in an explosion. I watch the film often and am enthralled and devastated from the minute it starts right up to the beautifully ambiguous ending. I picked it up for £1.99 at my local Blockbuster. Best bargain of my life, one of my favorite films and next to nobody has heard of it. The most criminal thing is that, were it released today, it would be receiving all sorts of OSCAR buzz.

    2.) State Of Grace (Phil Joanou, 1990)
    It may not have the most original storyline or execution, but 'State Of Grace' remains one of my favorite crime movies. The script is smart and character driven and gives great actors like Sean Penn and Ed Harris room to breathe - resulting in some excellent trademark shouting/spitting matches. Best of all though is Gary Oldman, turning in a career best turn as Jackie Flannery, a fired-up loose cannon eager to work his way up the crime syndicate ranks. It's an unpredictable and aggressive performance (not exactly something new for Oldman) but it's also charming, disturbing and sad. His friendship with Terry (Penn) is the core of the film and it's captivating because of his intense turn.

    I wish I had the time to write about more now but Michael Winterbottom's '24 Hour Party People', Gregg Araki's 'Mysterious Skin' and Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Valhalla Rising' deserve much more attention.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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