The Films I've Watched This Year #26

Film To break format briefly, this has been a rich old week for film with any of the following being a potential film of the week in previous lists.  That one actually does rise above them reminds me exactly why film is my cultural medium of choice.  Missing from the below list is all the football I watched last weekend, the many episodes of Damages and the first episode of Stig Larsson's Millenium, meaning the first half of the television version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which as I guessed, oh so long ago, does flow much better structurally than the edited version which turned up on our cinema screens.  I'll still be interested to see if Lisbeth does have more to do in the second half, disappears as she does from the theatrical cut.  But that's for next week, I'm taking this slowly.  Anything else?  There was the FACT visit of course, but I think I've said everything I'm going to say about that.

City of Ember
Army of Darkness
The Dark Knight Rises
The Great Gatsby
Evil Dead
The Invisible Woman

Boyhood is one of the greatest films of all time.  Within six months to a year, articles will appear in film journals.  Within ten years it'll appear relatively high in the Sight and Sound film poll and within twenty it'll be in the top ten.  Along with Gravity, it's a demonstration of how every generation is still capable of producing works as thoughtful and mighty as Citizen Kane, Sunrise, La Règle du jeu or Tokyo Story, that in these moments when it seems that film has plateaued or become stagnant, that there will always be a work can stand amongst the greats.  If you've not seen it yet, go now before it disappears from cinemas so that in years to come when you're talking about it you can say you saw it at an auditorium on release rather than streamed it.  Or indeed go because it also feels like the final celebration of celluloid, the last gasp of a medium which as the filmmakers explain became increasingly difficult to shoot on as the project proceeded.

What will those film essays consider?  Most filmmakers change their style somewhat over time, especially directors as industrious as Linklater so we could ask about the extent to which that impacted on the creative decisions he made during shooting.  Is it possible to see his own creativity develop and change across the film along with his characters or is the resulting work different to how it might have been when he started out?  What about the element of nostalgia or as Linklater has himself identified in interviews the way in which he was shooting a kind of contemporary period piece knowing full well that what was cutting edge technology would seem archaic by the time the film was released.  As he also says, the ambience of society hasn't changed as much in these twelve years as it did between, for example the late 60s and the early 80s, the same period in years as his work on this has.

The film's production began at the same time as this blog.  I think of this blog as an ageing relic sometimes, so what must it have been like for the Linklater to edit this film?  What of the cast, who hadn't seen any of what was shot before it had been put together, not least Ellar Coltrane who was apparently entirely discombobulated by the experience of seeing the six year old version of him acting for the first time.  The film's big achievement, I think, is that it's constantly possible to forget the effort and simply enjoy the result even if sometimes it is possible to guess which other project Ethan Hawke was working on depending on the extent of his facial hair and girth.  There's also the clever Harry Potter element in which he acknowledges the kinship with that other film series which shows young actors growing with their parts.  But the intents have been different, Linklater's level of creative will greater.

Time's short so I'll give the rest the short shift they barely deserve.  City of Ember is Dark City for kids, obviously and just as unseen and unmemorable, despite the presence of Bill Murray as the mayor of a town lost for two hundred years beneath the Earth and Saoirse Ronan on the edge of ascendancy.  The real star is the set, which was the biggest ever at the time of shooting, a massive, completely practical edifice built in Belfast which unlike a CG replacement gives a real epic sense to a piece which would feet perfectly in the Moffat era of Doctor Who.  And yes, that's a compliment.  But The Great Gatsby is just as beautiful because of the way it utilised CG to create impossible shots as the imaginary camera sweeps across the landscape as is The Invisible Woman because like Boyhood it's interested in life's incidentals, like mechanics of going to the toilet in the Dickens household.

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