Thursday, 28 January 2016

January Watch List

The Danish Girl
I can't seem to put my finger on it. It might have been the lack of explanation or the feelings left unsaid or it might have been, unfortunately, the fact that I am irritated by Eddie Redmayne's grin throughout the film. The film was good, but I was left wanting and actually quite upset. A groundbreaking true story about Lily Elbe, one of the first transgender women, would be expected to be handled with care and it was, to the point that it might break. The married life of Einar Wegener and Gerda, both artists, seems very picturesque and two leads have chemistry. But as Einar becomes Lily, the strain on each others' life is there. Having read more about the lives of both Gerda and Lily, the film, based on a book of the same name, seemed to have changed or cut out quite a bit of both Gerda's and Lily's journey. The film condenses the transition period and extends their conventional married life together. Knowing what I know now and thinking over the film again, I'm not too sure of it greatness. I was irritated beyond belief by Redmayne but Alicia Vikander saves the day by being brilliant and holding all the emotional scenes and feelings in check. There have been complaints that this film is more about Gerda than Lily and in truth it is. But I think that is down to Vikander just stealing the scenes as she is far more interesting and varied. 3/5

The Hateful Eight
After the leaking of the coverted script, I thought it was the end for Tarantino's would be Western. Thank goodness he went ahead and filmed it anyway. The excitement was not knowing the full story about the story. Eight strangers, well actually 9, in a room while a blizzard prevents them from leaving and tension compells them to stay. Split into 6 chapters and an narrator at random intervals, the story goes like this; John Ruth is taking murderer Daisy Domergue to Red Rock. They encounter Major Marquis Warren and Chris Mannix, suppose Sheriff of Red Rock on the way to a lodge to wait out the storm approcahing. At said lodge, they meet 4 others waiting out the storm. When people start dying, suspicions falls to the fact someone is in league with Domergue. The film felt like it was a play, the set up, the structure and the length. With so many action films out there and basic stories, watching this Tarantino construction, filled with words, atmospheric score and some brilliant actors, it was just what I wanted to see. 4/5

The Assassin
The film created a buzz of appreciation and had a gala screening at the BFI festival, I almost bought tickets for the film but I was getting way over budget. Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien the film is based on 19th Century Martial Arts story 'Nie Yinniang' which is an important story and part of Wuxia fiction. Wuxia was mention quite frequently in the handout at the BFI where I saw the film. The story and film are about a young girl, Yinniang, who was trained by a nun to fight and kill. But when Yinniang refuses to kill a man in front of his son, the nun and master send her home to assassinate her cousin, now important government official, who she was once meant to marry. The scenary and cinematography is amazingly beautiful but the story moves slow, with often no dialogue to fill the space where it is needed. I'm glad I read the handout as it mentioned Hou Hsiao-hsie's techniques and that this is not a typical martial arts film, the fight sequences are under a minute long and are not the focus. I prepared myself for something slow but not to the point where nothing was happening. Exposition was given a little way into the film but even that wasn't enough. For a film named 'The Assassin', it seemed misleading. If there were little martial arts happening and nearly no dialogue, I had hoped we'd find out more about Yinniang but there wasn't that either. So, beautiful to look, interesting story but not much else. But I was intrigued about the directors other films. 3/5


  1. I'm interested to watch The Assassin, I've read some good things about it. I didn't enjoy The Danish Girl, it felt lacking to what is supposed to be an emotion-filled film.

  2. I agree, The Danish Girl was lacking, but Vikander was very good. Aha! That's why I wanted to see The Assassin too, but it's not what I had hoped to see even though I was pre warned - a few minutes before the film.

  3. I wasn't too sure about The Danish Girl but one of my friends who is a transwoman said she absolutely hated it so that was as good as any opinion I could have come up with. I've not seen The Assassin but I've read really great things about it, I've not seen many Martial Arts movies so I don't have any expectations, maybe that might help me in this instance haha.

  4. I'd be interested to know why she hated it. I've read that people complained it wasn't about Lily, but more about Gerda. I think they should have made things clearer in the promotion and marketing.

    If you haven't seen many, this might help as its not really focused on martial arts. I loved House of Flying Daggers so expected something along those lines and the lead up made a bigger deal of this element, but not like that at all.