Little White Lies 01 - The Life Aquatic Issue

Page 1

Laser Proof






The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Released 25th February (Nationwide)

Director Wes Anderson

Screenplay Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach Running Time 118 mins

Starring Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett Huston

Owen Wilson, Anjelica Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Noah Taylor

Words by Matthew Bochenski

“i’M going to Find it and i’M going to destroy it... possibly with dynaMite”

Chapter 01



Wes Anderson is back on the radar after a four year absence. But is The Life Aquatic a big fish or a red herring?


generation of movie-

lovers longs to acclaim a shift in power. A revolution that puts them in charge of the


touchstones of movie culture. It’s easy, then, to

the cinematic landscape. Creating an alternative

account for the rise and rise of Wes Anderson,

universe of oddballs, psychotics and ordinary

who, with three films under his belt, has redefined freaks, Anderson has consistently plundered


“Murray’s lugubrious, sad-eyed FACE strikes right to the heart of Zissou, a faded icon filled with regret, whose painful mistakes seem far to outweigh the happier memories of a fortunate life.” 8 THE LIFE AQUATIC ISSUE

the outer limits of his imagination and stamped a unique identity on his work. From every day eccentricity to kitchensink psychosis, his films explore an adjective-inventing array of outlandish creatures and shine a light on the most moribund of environments.

A famed explorer and oceanographer, Captain of the Belafonte, auteur, icon and huckster, ‘Stevezee’ is one small nod towards Federico Fellini and one giant finger towards Jacques Cousteau. After tragedy strikes during a routine expedition, Steve takes to the sea one last time on a riproaring rampage of revenge to kill (or at least painfully dynamite) the mythical Jaguar shark that ate his friend. Matters are complicated by the appearance of his long-ignored – if never actually lost – ‘son’, Ned, played by the agreeably laconic Owen Wilson and Jane, a heavily pregnant and eminently shaggable English reporter played by Cate Blanchett, the eminently shaggable and heavily pregnant Australian actress. Not to mention a multinational misfit film-crew, a billionairess wife (Anjelica Huston) and suave arch-rival Jack Hennesy (the under-used if excellently metrosexual Jeff Goldblum).

This high-intensity, low-octane approach is evident from the outset in Anderson’s fourth movie, The Life Aquatic. Returning to the familiar tale of a proud-butageing patriarch whose

At its best, The Life Aquatic is a richly entertaining character beat – a serio-comic tragedy humming with nonchalant intelligence and cloaked in the warm glow of nostalgia. The partnership between Bill Murray and Wes Anderson is currently one of cinema’s most fruitful collaborations. Murray’s lugubrious, sad-eyed face strikes right to the heart of Zissou, a faded icon filled with regret, whose painful mistakes seem far to outweigh the happier memories of a fortunate life. Though his passions have been stoked, listlessness is never far from the surface, and if at times there’s something familiar about Murray’s overwhelming apathy, it still captures the spirit of a man too tired to care. “This is an adventure,” he declares. But never like he means it.

Murray’s mercurial Zissou

is supported by a script that fizzes with surreal intentions. Beyond the usual clichés of having a great ear for dialogue, there’s something uniquely vulnerable about Anderson’s language. As if, for all the acclaim afforded him as a writer, he’s determined to be as unmovielike as possible. He writes in bursts of ideas, firing off round after round of high-velocity dialogue without sacrificing the spirit of his characters. It’s a balancing act, one expertly traversed by Murray, whose chaotic and often child-like emotions are perfectly suited to this quick-fix style. But it’s to Anderson’s credit that each of the crew has their chance to shine, most notably Willem Dafoe’s Klaus Daimler, one of the most unexpected pure comic performances of the year.

fading aura casts a dim glow across the lives of family and friends, his Steve Zissou is a magnificent creation.

As ever, Anderson’s plot is little more than the broadest possible tapestry. Etched across this – with a mixture of deftness, bravado and infuriating self-satisfaction – are a series of vignettes that bemuse and annoy as much as they delight and surprise.


Seig Heil Cinema City

There aren’t many Fas cist icons that earn a place in the heart of the movie cognoscenti. Rome’s Cinecitta Studio s were built by Mussolini in 1931 and affectionately referred to as his ‘strong est weapon’. They rose from the ashes of World War II to be immortalised by 1950s Hollywood – the likes of Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas and Audrey Hepburn flocked there, ripping up the Italian capital along the way. It was the period of la dolce vita, later parodied by Fellini, but responsible for films including Cleopatra and A Farewe ll To Arms. More recently Cinecitta has inspired productions from Once Upon A Time In America to Gangs Of New York.

Equally integral to the film’s most successful moments are Mark Friedberg’s design and Bob Yeoman’s sumptuous photography. Anderson’s


movies all have a unique visual pallet, but The

previous work, both in conception and execution.

Life Aquatic (shot in part at Rome’s Cinecitta

The real star of the show is the Belafonte itself,

Studios) is an order of magnitude above his

a bizzare retro-futurist throwback shot in a lush


dreamscape. Imagine a philosophical marriage between the 1970’s of Ian Fleming’s acid flashbacks and a staggering misinterpretation of Italian style, and you have some inkling of the Belafonte’s mad world. It’s a knowingly theatrical, gloriously

And, for all the snappy dialogue, too many of his characters exist in a vacuum. Too many good ideas are lost in the service of the film’s one big and not always successful idea – Steve. The most obvious casualty of this narrative tailspin is Cate Blanchett’s Jane. Here is a great actress inhabiting a character brimming with possibilities. Where does it go? Nowhere. Jane is a cipher, an emotionally empty dramatic device who exists placidly in orbit around Steve Zissou. Her role is simply to create a convenient tension between father and son which, in turn, leads to a depressingly manipulative finale that ticks all the usual boxes of Big Hollywood Endings. It’s like Adaptation without the ironic genius.

deconstructed landscape that ripples with Anderson’s grand ambitions.

Ned himself, literally and metaphorically, doesn’t escape unscathed. The question of his parentage is frontand-centre throughout the film, the crux of Steve’s journey towards

It’s not all plain sailing, though. If the design of the Belafonte is inspired, too often it feels shoe-horned into an outlet for some intrusively fancy camera work. Anderson has an eye for imagery, but there’s something obtusely movie-like about some of his fancier moves; at odds with the underplayed qualities of the rest of the film. When Steve casually confesses to being “a showboat and a little bit of a prick”, you can’t help wondering if Anderson couldn’t apply at least one of those epithets to himself.


some kind of so-called redemption. But at the very moment of its articulation, it’s lost. Even worse, it’s casually discarded to the pile of Ideas That We Didn’t Need

“I’ll fight it. But i’ll let it live... Now what about my dynamite?” Steve Zissou

The Life Aquatic with Wes Anderon

the dinesLWLies ’sattable Captain

LWLies Wes, your films are highly personal, are you surprised so many people connect to them? Anderson I was never more confident than when we made Bottle Rocket that people would respond well to my movies. Then we had our first test screening and 85 people walk out of a 250-seat room and we started re-writing the movie. So from that time on I’ve always been surprised to have any kind of audience.

LWLies The fish are fantastic visually in this film. Why use animation rather than real life creatures? Anderson We’ve all seen underwater reality on television – we could never compete with that. Our idea was to create our own magical little world. Every single fish in the movie is made up. We used stop-motion animation. It’s an old-fashioned technique that really seems to fit the handmade feeling of the whole film.

LWLies What does Steve Zissou discover about himself as his journey progresses? Anderson He’s very caught up in his own sense of failure. Everything is a result of how unhappy he is and that includes his anger and all his unpleasant characteristics. About two thirds of the way through the movie everything comes crashing down and he can’t avoid confronting it any more. I think at the end of the film he has some feeling of redemption.


Any Longer Once We Figured How The Hell To Extricate Ourselves From This Messy Last Third. And that’s quite a pile. This failure of... What? Talent? Unlikely. Nerve? Not really. Imagination? Perhaps, is the hole that ultimately sinks The Life Aquatic. Steve is never made to answer for

who he is, always allowed to look askance at the wreckage of his life rather than deal with it head on. He’s a slave to his ego, utterly defeated by his inability to show real selfawareness (and viciously misogynistic to boot).

Steve’s final act, his response to the second great tragedy in his life is revealing. He sets out – again – to fulfil the same selfish mission that has destroyed people’s lives and we, the audience, are expected to call this a resolution. Worse, a victory of sorts. Not even a 13-foot Jaguar shark should swallow that.

“Steve is never made to answer for who he is, always allowed to look askance at the wreckage of his life” 14 THE LIFE AQUATIC ISSUE


Anderson’s fourth film carried the weight of potential greatness on its shoulders.


It’s funny and charming, but also ambivalent and slight.

In Retrospect

Is Steve Zissou a fool or a hero? Only Wes Anderson could leave you so uncertain. Be grateful.


Chapter 02


THIS IS A MAGAZINE ABOUT TRUTH, AND MOVIES You CANNOT make friends with the rock stars. That’s what’s important. If you’re a rock journalist, a true journalist – they’ll buy you drinks, you’ll meet girls... they’ll try to fly you places for free... offer you drugs... But they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of rock stars and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it. They are trying to buy respectability for a form that is gloriously and righteously... dumb! And you’re smart enough to know that. And the day it ceases to be dumb is the day it ceases to be real. Right? And then it will just become an Industry of Cool. And that’s what they want! And it’s happening right now... And you should build your reputation on being honest... and unmerciful.” © Cameron Crowe. 2000


Art Director

Danny Miller

Contributing Editor Jonathan Crocker

Reviews Editor

Matt Bochenski

Assistant Art Director

Paul Willoughby

Features Editor

Jonathan Williams

Back Section Designer

Rob Longworth

Website Editor Henry Wilkinson

Words, pictures, thanks...

Anthony Brookes, Colin Crummy, Andrew Davidson, Adrian D’Enrico, Rob Drake, Amelia Gregory, Phil Hebblethwaite, Jack Horner, Annabel Hutton, David Jenkins, Lucas Krull, Matt Lister, Kate Macefield, Kayt Manson, Zoe Paxton, Monisha Rajesh, Adrian Sandiford, Matt Smith, Anthony Strange, Ruth Tierney, Emma Tildsley, Jamie Wignall

Advertising Sales

Steph Pomphrey

Financial Director

Mark Mills


Worldwide Magazine Distribution Limited

Published By

The Church Of London Ltd. Editorial, Little White Lies magazine, Suite 381, 14 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 1JY The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team.



Many thanks to Principal Colour (01892) 835005



“A beautiful film with a sense of humour as dry as its Patagonian landscapes...a charming shaggy tale of one man, his dog and his dreams” Jason Solomons, THE OBSERVER

���� GQ



a LwLies review will not be inhibited by any perceived rules. Just as movies are about more than the two hours you spend sitting in the cinema, our reviews are a chance to talk about much more than the immediate experience of the film in question. there are many different aspects of the movie-going experience and we will embrace them all.


ever waited six months for a boxoffice behemoth? Read a book that you loved and nervously watched the adaptation? Been pleasantly surprised by an off-the-radar independent? Anticipation plays a crucial role in your reaction to a movie. Rather than ignore it, we think it should be measured and acknowledged as part of the moviegoing experience.


All other things aside, how did you feel for those two hours? Were you glued to your seat? did the film speak to your soul? Was it upsetting, disappointing, or just plain boring? Were you even awake?

In Retrospect

Great movies live with you; you carry them around wherever you go and the things they say shape the way you see the world. did this movie fade away or was every moment burned into your retinas? Was it a quick fix action flick, good for a rainy sunday afternoon? or the first day of the rest of your life? did you hate it with a fury only to fall in love with a passion? or did that first love drain away like a doomed romance?

Chapter 03



Release Date 4th March Director Bill Condon Starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard

wordS by david JenkinS

scientist. Pervert. father. Misogynist. Back in 1949, Alfred Kinsey yanked the covers off America’s bedroom antics and changed the world forever. Liam neeson stars as the man who dared to say, “Let’s talk about sex...”

There are few academics

whose work lit the touchstone of cultural revolution. And few more unlikely dissidents than Professor Alfred Kinsey. But 20 years before feminists burned bras in the name of sexual liberation, Kinsey had put an end to the priggishness and halftruths of Eisenhower’s America. More than half a century later, Sexual Attitudes Of The Human Male and Sexual Attitudes Of The Human Female still send a spasm of apoplexy down the spine of every


When it comes to racy books, the Sexual activity of the human male or the kinsey report as it was known, was the eye-opening news of the world splash of its time. sexually charged emotional couplings were reduced to lists, tables and the odd Venn diagram. The film kinsey sheds little light on the findings of the book, concentrating on the tropes of the man himself. Well, loosen the chastity belt, close your bible, pour yourself a cocktail and read what all the fuss was about…

right-wing good ol’ boy in God’s own country. With his free-thinking wife Clara (Laura Linney) acquiescing to his schemes, Kinsey’s work filled a fundamental gap in social and scientific awareness at a time when alarmist sex textbooks claimed that the consequence of adultery was eternal damnation.

At the very least, director Bill Condon’s sixth film could scarcely be more relevant. Picketed on release in the US, it arrives as Bush’s ‘moral majority’ are winning the war on sex in America. Unsurprisingly, then, Kinsey is no simple epic of dicks and dames. It cleverly plays on the Professor’s own ethos of tackling sex in purely scientific terms. The scenes of actual sex are cunningly presented through a series of medical photographs and films, while potentially explosive material, from bestiality to paedophilia, is carefully related through the confessions of his subjects – a forensic examination rather than a tabloid splash.

- 92% of all males and 62% of femal es reported masturbating - 46% of the male population had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual activity - 89% of men and 64% of women used sexual fantasy to masturbate - 49% of men had performed cunnilingus in their marriages, 45% of women had performed fellatio - 68% of men and 50% of women had engaged in premarital sex - 68% of men and 40% of women had their first orgasm through

masturbation. 27% of women had their first orgasm through intercourse - 14% of men had performed homosexual fellatio, 30% had received homosexual fellatio - The missionary position was the most common sex position, followed by woman-on-top - Both men and women have sex an average of 2.8 times week in their twenties, 2.2 times a week in their thirties and 1 time a week in their fifties.

Where Kinsey succeeds is in differentiating itself from recent forebears like Ray or A Beautiful Mind. Those films are carried on the back of a single magnificent performance, yet Kinsey achieves that rare feat – a biopic working as an ensemble piece. That’s not to say that Liam Neeson doesn’t deserve to be singled out. On the contrary, he exposes the ambiguities behind Kinsey’s drive with nuanced precision, drifting fluidly from anger at society’s stunted sexual mores to curiosity at his own sexuality to a blinkered obsession with academia.

Stephen McCarthy’s cinematography is elegant yet understated, brilliantly eschewing any reliance on period detail to reinforce the idea that Kinsey’s work is as salient now as it was then. Condon’s direction is

refreshingly hands-off, except for one delightful montage of characters narrating their sexually charged confessions to Kinsey and his cohorts, an elegant impression of the scope of the project and a good excuse for some eye-watering one-

24 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe

liners – “I INVENTED masturbation!”. Still, if Kinsey treads a brave path through a minefield of combustible avenues, some themes aren’t investigated as rigorously as the curious mind might hope. His first book, Sexual Attitudes Of The Human Male, was the most popular scientific tome of its time, whereas its follow up, Sexual Attitudes Of The Human Female, was, for want of a better word, a flop. Why was Kinsey pulled from the limelight so suddenly? Why was a nation so willing to carry out a pioneering sex survey so unwilling to confront its results? Condon’s film can’t come up with the answers and, equally, there’s no recognition of the gender politics at the root of this failure. Given the fiery subject matter, Kinsey is a film that walks a tightrope between edgy character study and polished Hollywood biopic. Occasionally, it falls with its legs straddling the wire. But hey, apparently some people like that.


A major biopic out in awards season raises expectations considerably.


Stumbles occasionally, but remains refreshingly frank.

In Retrospect

Will make you want to tuck a copy of the Kinsey Report inside your copy of the Daily Sport.


the edukators

Release Date 15th April Director Hans Weingartner Starring Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaußner

wordS by henry wiLkinSon

Jan and Peter are The Edukators, a pair of young Berlin rebels bent on changing the world. Channelling the spirit of Tyler Durden, they hand out anti-capitalist flyers by day and break into the villas of the Berlin elite by night, rearranging their belongings. A cross between modern artists and poltergeists, The Edukators unnerve their victims with one simple message: “Your days of plenty are numbered.” 26 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe

As a political film, The Edukators is a gripping study of the need to rebel, though it’s far from a convincing manifesto. There’s no clear vision of a post-capitalist future and it doesn’t always navigate the muddy waters of crime, society and wealth successfully.


The first German-language film in a decade In Competition at Cannes raises

expectations unnaturally high for a ‘political’ film.


While The Edukators is never less than compelling, it’s also never entirely convincing.

In Retrospect

Raises ideas that you’ll be discussing for days.

5x2 (cinq Fois deux) Release Date 18th March Director François Ozon Starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Stéphane Freiss, Géraldine Pailhas

wordS by moniSha raJeSh

Following 2003’s awardwinning Swimming Pool, François Ozon returns with an equally spellbinding and perverse inspection of human nature in its most raw and basic forms. Borrowing heavily from Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, Ozon’s film is pieced together in reverse order, beginning with disillusioned couple Gilles (Stephane Freiss) and Marion (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) writing off their marriage in a solicitor’s office. Two hours later, the lovers meet,

ignorant of the cruel fate that awaits them – a teeth-clenching marital rape scene that unsurprisingly becomes the focal point of their doomed relationship. Where 5x2 succeeds is in cleverly turning the sanctity of marriage on its head, its familiar clichés invigorated in shocking and confusing ways. Ozon pulls off this feat with smooth panache, slowly reeling in his audience with the gentlest of touches. Tedeschi and Freiss work well

together, showing the once-bright sparks of love now reduced to ashes. Unfortunately, the well-paced script and perfect dialogue are reduced to glossy subtitles that do the original language little justice. That said, even the most ardent Francophobes will enjoy the brutal honesty and astute observations of Ozon’s unique love story.

of other quality shorts by Ozon.


The director’s apparently obtuse decisions become clearer over time.

High, after the excellent Swimming Pool and a number


The opening scenes are initially confusing, but Ozon’s film is an admirable study of a couple’s failed marriage.

In Retrospect


“I’ll set my hair on fire and punch myself in the face,” threatens John

Clasky, a little over half way through James L Brooks’s breezily offensive Spanglish. Yeah? Get in line. Perhaps it’s fitting given this last, discordant year that a director as shallow as Brooks should find himself at the centre of a cultural firestorm. Then again, given his pedigree, it’s also pretty weird. At first glance, the most shocking thing about Spanglish is that a filmmaker with 16 years of experience on The Simpsons figures he has something left to say about dysfunction and modern relationships. On paper, Spanglish is pure Brooks. Successful chef John Clasky (Adam Sandler) and his over-achieving, unemployed wife Deborah (played unsubtlely by Tea Leoni) hire Paz Vega’s Flor, a beautiful Mexican housekeeper, to bring some semblance of order to their house, kids and alcoholic in-laws.

Don’t be fooled. What follows is an all too predictable culture-clash rom-com, anchored by the dynamics of family drama, cast adrift by callousness, hypocrisy and a total absence of emotional integrity. So far, who’s surprised? Brooks is a sentimental, manipulative filmmaker. But, frustratingly, he shows glimpses of the keen mind and sharp eye that made Mary Tyler Moore and Homer Simpson household names. There’s some astute writing and broad comic touches, particularly for Sandler, whose John Clasky is very nearly a distinct dramatic performance. Sure, it doesn’t last and if you rolled your eyes every time he reverted to type you’d strain your retinas, but you can sense the desire to be great beneath the mumbling façade. Equally, Brooks’ screenplay flirts with gender politics and rom-com role reversals. Deborah Clasky is a typical male – aloof and egocentric, mixed up and insensitive to her family. She could have been fascinating, but in Brooks’s hands, she’s atrociously ill-conceived.


life. James L. Brooks’ offensive rom-com is an unedifying slice of American words by matthew bochenski

Release Date 25th February Director James L Brooks Starring Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman


There’s no real effort

to understand Deborah as a human being. Rather than explore her frailties – why she lost her job; the implicit cost of her me-first attitude – Spanglish is content to ridicule her weaknesses. There’s a deepseated misogyny at work here, in everything from the way she makes love (a deliberately toe-curling scene, full of ugliness and contempt) to her relationship with Bernice, her eldest daughter. Deborah is consistently vilified for suggesting her daughter should be prettier and yet Brooks repeatedly uses her physical appearance to draw crude comparisons with Flor. Next to the Mexican’s flawless beauty, Leoni is all elbows and angles, jogging bottoms and sweat-streaked hair. It’s a cruel, inconsistent shorthand. Brooks castigates Deborah for using beauty as a byword for something deeper, while using exactly this tactic against her himself. It’s one of many examples of the film’s hypocrisy and its crass insincerity. After all, when it comes to her children, Deborah is right. Bernice

will live a happier life for being thinner and more beautiful, and for a Hollywood director (of all people) to claim otherwise is wilfully insulting. No less badly handled is Spanglish’s central conceit, the romance between Flor and John. Their Big Moment is a scene of staggering naivety in which Flor’s daughter, Cristina, translates an argument. He pays Cristina $500 for collecting sea glass, and an enraged Flor accuses John of smug, middle-class arrogance. He, in turn, accuses her of interfering with his family after she resized the ill-fitting clothes that Deborah bought for Bernice. You wait for Flor’s outraged reply. And wait. And wait. But it doesn’t come. This selflessness is casually equated with John’s cavalier disregard for the reality of Flor and Cristina’s lives. The glaring differences between them go unacknowledged. Why? Either because Brooks can’t tell the difference between how these two people feel (in which case he’s an idiot) or because he doesn’t care – he’s too busy milking them for

cheap comic potential. It’s a moment of such casual offensiveness it could almost pass unnoticed if the crass, white sensibility that underpinned it didn’t smell so badly.

Even the relationship between Flor and Cristina, the movie’s heart and soul, is suspect. Cristina gravitates towards Deborah because she dreams of a better life. And why shouldn’t she? All children want to be different from their parents, and for Cristina, the dream of finding her own identity is especially resonant. Brooks’ characterisation of this as some sort of betrayal is rooted in an oppressive mindset. Is he saying that all immigrant communities should stick to what they know best: working-class dreams and second-

class citizenship? Or, conversely, is he saying that white people are only defined by what they achieve? Either way, he can fuck off. The one bright spot of Spanglish is a breakthrough performance by Paz Vega in her first English speaking role. She is uncommonly, indecently beautiful – a walking symphony of caramel skin and oak-smoked eyes. She invests Flor with a dignity that Spanglish scarce deserves. James L Brooks probably thinks she’s the new Penélope Cruz. But then, we think the shallow little bastard probably couldn’t tell the difference.


High, but probably for the wrong reasons.


There are some good bits. But you’ll still want to kill yourself.

In Retrospect

Marvel at the new levels of crudity that reveal themselves over time.


Kevin Bacon could’ve

been a star. He had the respect and the opportunity. He even had a game named after him. But Bacon took a conscious choice many years ago to be an actor, leaving behind him a body of work that is as diverse as it is intelligent. The Woodsman is classic Bacon; the kind of role Brando might have taken in his most stubborn “fuck off” era. And Walter, a paedophile just out of prison, desperately trying not to re-offend, is a knock-out. From first time director Nicole Kassell, The Woodsman could so easily have been a disaster. But instead, it’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking movie, carried by stellar performances rather than star power. With plot twists and even dialogue kept to a minimum, The Woodsman is heavily dependent on

30 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe

its ensemble cast. Hip-hop artists turned actors are rarely value for money, yet Eve makes the most of her small role as a lumberyard clerk who suspects Walter’s secret, but it’s Mos Def who is a revelation. As Sgt. Lucas, Def achieves the impossible, matching Bacon scene for scene. Beyond the cliché of a tough street cop, Sgt. Lucas is a weary man, haunted by the things he has seen. The persona that he adopts to frighten Walter has clearly been crafted over too many years. It fails him, in the film’s most powerful moment, when he is finally broken by the knowledge that there is nothing he can do to make the world a better place. The Woodsman is an affecting film. Its simplicity and lack of sensationalism are to Kassell’s credit, but it is not easy viewing. There are no explicitly shocking moments, but at its core, The

Woodsman sweats nervous expectancy as Walter waits impotently for his mask to slip. Thanks to Bacon’s mesmeric work, this ugly inevitability is utterly compelling. Even so, you will be glad to leave Walter’s world behind.


It is impossible to look forward to a film on this subject, but the opportunity to see Bacon on top form is mouth watering.


Engaging and affecting throughout, The Woodsman is still not a pleasant experience.

In Retrospect

Truly haunting. Just try to remember it is a work of fiction.

Released Director Starring Mos Def,

25th February Nicole Kassell Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick Benjamin Bratt

wordS by Jonathan wiLLiamS

the woodsman

There’s more to 9 Songs than the music, before you consider going to see it with your parents. It’s arty pornography laced with Antarctic froideur and live rock footage. It’s Last Tango in Paris meets Brixton Academy. Michael Winterbottom’s latest offering tells the story of a relationship cemented by music, drugs and sex. Matt and Lisa are a tedious pair with nothing to say to each other. There’s no charm or humour – they fuck prettily but it’s thoroughly depressing. Enjoy the show, but don’t expect to care. Go for the sex, stay for the music.

9 Songs

Released 11th March Director Michael Winterbottom Starring Kieran O’Brien Margot Still ey

wordS by Jonathan wiLLiamS


Michael Winterbottom is an unsung hero, but can you really look forward to a movie about sex? Sure.


The Dandy Warhols and Franz Ferdinand make 9 Songs bearable.

In Retrospect

Forget it if you want to get an erection ever again.


Guest reviewer – Daniel Wilco from San Franciscan ‘zine Mama Roux – takes a look at The Assassination Of Richard Nixon.


Released 8th April Director Niels Mueller Starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts Don Cheadle, Jack Thompson

the assassination

of richard nixon if niels Mueller’s debut feature doesn’t quite sink into the screen, it’s because there’s a problem with his story, not his actors.

Didn’t it always used to be that if a film was based on a true story, it would say so at the beginning? I may be wrong, but that makes a kind of sense to me – it allows you to watch the thing with a different kind of understanding. This is remarkable/unremarkable (delete as appropriate) because it actually happened, you think to yourself – it’s not some invented, fictitious shit. Niels Mueller’s debut feature, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, ends with the following statement: “Inspired by a true story.” Inspired? What does that mean? That somehow the actual story isn’t quite spicy enough so the writer/director had to beef it up a little? That the writer/director has such a poor imagination he has to use real stories as the basis for creating invented ones? Who knows? Most likely, he had to put it there to prevent the family of the half-real character from dragging his ass up before the beak.

Finishing the film with such a statement is massively annoying. It makes you feel like you’ve been conned. And cheaply at that. “Make your fucking mind up Niels,” I felt like shouting at the credits, “stick to the truth or give us something properly imagined.” In fact, I was so annoyed I even found myself reading some of the blurb on how the film got made on the bus home. Check this out, from the writer/director: “I wrote 30 pages of a fictitious script I was calling The Assassination of LBJ It was about this man who is separated from his wife and child, and who takes a new sales job to re-establish himself financially – and more importantly – to re-establish himself in his wife’s eyes. He is a man who wants his wife and child back. I had him talking into a tape recorder, although I hadn’t figured out why.” This Niels dude then claims he went to his local library, did some research on wannabe presidential assassins and - just imagine the



luck! – came across a man who, before he decided he wanted to hijack and fly a plane into Richard Nixon’s White House, became separated from his wife and child, and took a new sales job to reestablish himself financially – and more importantly – to re-establish himself in his wife’s eyes. He was a man who wanted his wife and child back and who also talked into a tape recorder. Are we smelling some bullshit here? Should we feel a little suspicious of Mr Mueller and his debut feature? I think so.

I’m being a little

reasons I’ve mentioned

pedantic here and

and, second, it isn’t

ignoring, of course,

actually a particularly

the Magic Of The

interesting story.

Cinema. Films are about more than how close an “inspired” story sticks to the facts, right? Yes sah, they are. And there’s nothing wrong with using something from real life to help make massive metaphorical points about something else, is there? No ma’am, there ain’t. It just doesn’t work with this film, and that’s because, first, the story sits uneasily on the screen for all the

“Ah ha,” you scream, “that’s just the fucking point, isn’t it? This is a film about the American Dream – about an Average Joe’s total failure to leave a mark on the Great American Consciousness. But he doesn’t, does he? He fails. Nobody gives a shit and that’s what this is all about.” Yes, indeed, but what a silly idea for a film. Lunatic tries to become great historical figure but doesn’t. Riveting! Dangerous subject for a new director to take on too. Imagine how easy it will be to write headlines at the expense of Mr Mueller if his film doesn’t do well: “Cinema fans refuse to care about film concerning a man nobody cares about.”

Another thing that’s a bit shit about this movie: a lot of the early part of it works hard at trying to ensure that we, the fee-paying public, manage to identify with the lead character. That’s done by labouring the point that, at some period in our lives, all of us have suffered the same dilemmas as him. Fair enough – I too have had jobs that I’ve hated and, you’d better believe it, women have also left me heartbroken and sad. What did I do, though? I got drunk. Did I ever consider blaming the President? No. And did I ever decide to try and

slice him open with the wing of a stolen 737? Of course I didn’t, and that’s because, for the most part, I’m not criminally-minded and I’m not as mad as a bag of thirsty pythons. You probably aren’t either, so why the hell does Mueller try to make out that this Sean Penn character is just like us? He isn’t. So, yup, there are some problems with this film. But, all told, it’s a fair watch. Sean Penn does a good job; Jack Thompson is totally ace as Penn’s boss; and it’s almost worth seeing. Does it get you in the guts, though? Does it fuck. Give it two stars if you’re doing that kind of shit.


the chorus Released 11th March Director Christophe Barratier Starring Gérard Jugnot, François Bérleand Kad Merad, Jean-Paul Bonnaire

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From first time director Christophe Barratier, The Chorus brings a continental subtlety to the story of Clement Mathieu, new music-supervisor to a Borstal-esque school of French adolescents. Though it bears more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Dead Poets Society and checkboxes the usual clichés of the good lone teacher fighting for his misunderstood kids, The Chorus never feels manipulative. It never asks you to conduct your own weeping in the aisles and the finale is more touching legato than grand crescendo. Largely thanks to Gerard Jugnot’s amiable performance as Mathieu, The Chorus is strangely endearing. Sophisticated and cute without mollycoddling, heartening without nauseating.

36 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe


Though it’s a remake of French classic La Cage aux Rossignols, anyone who suffered through Mona Lisa Smile will still be wary.


It’s not riveting, but The Chorus is an elegantly made, emotionally affecting experience.

In Retrospect

It won’t resurface in your dreams. Lightweight.

Life is a miracle

Released 11th March Director Emir Kusturica Starring Slavko Stimac, Natasa Solak Vesna Trivalic, Vuk Kostic

Set amongst the

breathtaking scenery of the Zlatibor region of Serbia, Life is a Miracle is the story of Luka, a multi-talented and quirky individual whose family are torn apart by the onset of war. Through a multitude of capricious set-pieces, Bosnian director Emir Kusturica’s eccentric tale of starcrossed lovers caught in the Balkan conflict highlights the destinies of little people as they struggle to cope with the hardships of fate. The deluge of absurdity proceeds unabashed as both riots and chaotic village piss-ups erupt from nowhere. This, accompanied by rampant music supplied by Kusturica’s very own techno gypsy rock-band, the No Smoking Orchestra, helps keep proceedings in constant flap. Amongst this din

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of parping instruments and hazy bedlam, the war, much to Luka’s surprise and ambivalence, blasts its way directly to his own doorstep. There’s something unconvincing about this continuing, whimsical uproar, and the show is almost constantly stolen by the film’s animal cast, who deliver a warmth sadly lacking in the torpor of the principle characters. A greedy, short-tempered cat, a suicidal love-sick donkey and several other magnificent creatures sustain interest though a rambling, often ridiculous plot. Life is a Miracle’s central love story tries hard to be dreamily incandescent, but merely simmers until its final conclusion. The delicate human relationships and the wouldbe sense of tragedy Kusturica should have carefully presented us

with flicker too dimly, and the film’s most significant exchanges lose any sense of emotional resonance that you would associate with one of the great humanitarian disasters of the century. At just over two and a half hours, Life is a Miracle is too long, and would have benefited from taking less time to resolve its tiringly vague conundrum.


Miraculously beneath the radar.


Animals! Gypsy rock!

In Retrospect

Try and remember the title on your way out. Try. 37

Der Untergang Released 1st April Director Oliver Hirschbiegel Starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes


“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” That wasn’t a luxury that Adolf Hitler ever had. He was a caricature of evil in his own lifetime, a primeval human-instinct filtered to purity and given a leering, moustache-shaded face. But though he lived and died in the full glare of flashlights and fire power, there was a side to him that history was keen to forget. 38 THE LIFE AQUATIC ISSUE

The story of Hitler’s final days, pacing his bunker like a maniacal King Lear, has untold scope for controversy. That Oliver Hirschbiegel, a German, should shoot it on location in his own country is brave to the point of madness. That he should bring to Der Untergang a perspective of such utter humanity is almost unfathomable. Anybody expecting the Hitler of history’s cartoon should prepare themselves for something quite remarkable. Der Untergang cleverly portrays wartime Germany from inside and outside the wolf’s lair. Hirschbiegel interweaves the perspectives of Hitler’s secretary, Traudl Junge,

Sympathy for the devil. who becomes both professionally and emotionally attached to the Furher, an SS Doctor and a young boy, his childhood emasculated by conscription, to reveal the story of the dictator’s desperate last days. From the outset, this Hitler is a shock. Perhaps for the first time, this is a genuine attempt to understand him not as an icon or a political totem, but as a human being. In the hands of Bruno Ganz, Hitler transcends the legacy that keeps his humanity at arm’s length and is given a face – more, given feelings. He jokes, shows forgiveness, plays with his dog – performs the everyday tasks of real life that all people, even Hitler, must perform.

That the honesty of this approach is so shocking is testimony to the flatulence of Hitler’s role in our society. His reputation as a demonic bogeyman conveniently dehumanises him, renders him ‘evil’, ‘sub-human’, ‘not like us’. It means we don’t have to question who he really is, and by extension means we don’t have to ask ourselves if we are like him too. Der Untergang’s is a grand canvas, vividly brought to life by Ganz and Alexandra Maria Lara’s Traudl. Both performances are show-stopping and truly as real as they come. At two-and-a-half hours, it’s a big effort but one that’s thoroughly

coach carter Released 25th February Director Thomas Carter Starring Samuel L Jackson Rob Brown, Robert Ri’chard, Rick Gonzalez

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Based on a true story,

Coach Carter is a horribly predictable, sentimental yarn about Coach Ken Carter who, in just four months, turned a high-school basketball team of drop-outs into winners. Thomas Carter’s sub-mediocre movie is yet another depressing trawl through adolescent college culture. It reeks of Hollywood’s peculiar mix of gee-whiz optimism and narrow-eyed cynicism, at once overwhelmingly sincere and ruthlessly manipulative. Samuel L Jackson can’t even be bothered to phone this one in, preferring to have it delivered by a sadistically untalented bodysnatcher. Worse, there’s some sort of ironic sensitive side on show – he even cries. It’s like a painfully shallow in-joke: it’s Sam the Man! And he’s crying! Twat.

Not that it matters. The script is a living embodiment of laziness. You can practically see it cat-napping in the corner of the frame. Only rousing itself for the grand finale when Carter’s team lose the state final. Oops, spoiled the ending. Good. Spend your money more wisely.


Fans of Teen Wolf might get excited.


There’s little to get excited about. The games are predictable and the performances are bland.

In Retrospect

Easily forgotten film. Nothing stands out apart from Rick Gonzalez’s hair, which is quite cool.

rewarded. Combining emotion, perspective and a great ensemble cast, Der Untergang is a must-see for history lovers and haters alike. It will open your mind.


Early word on Der Untergang was extremely strong.


Enjoyment may not be the word. Fascinating, compelling, thoughtprovoking are more apt.

In Retrospect

Will keep you thinking for days to come. 39



slim fast, die young.

Released March Director 18th Brad Anderson Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian

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Meet Trevor Reznik,

a 120-pound, insomniac machineoperator with a guilty secret. It’s through his sunken, scared, sleepdeprived eyes that you will see the world for two hours. And, sweet Jesus, what a world it is. The opening scene of Brad Anderson’s The Machinist finds Trevor (a terrifyingly skeletal Christian Bale) struggling to heave an unpleasant load into a dirty river. It’s typical of his charmless existence. When he isn’t toiling in a machine shop, he’s drifting waiflike through his unlit apartment, compulsively scrubbing with bleach or staring at a cup of coffee in an airport café, listening to the clock counting down to the unseen fate that awaits him. Trevor is clearly burdened by guilt and paranoia but it’s only when he meets Ivan, a bald, grinning brute in cowboy boots with toes surgically grafted on to one of his hands, that the pieces of the film’s psychological puzzle begin to fall into place.

Set in an unidentifiable time, in an unidentifiable place, The Machinist exists in a dislocated void between reality and hallucination, past and present, leaving the viewer with no footholds to escape. Not that you’ll want to leave. From the moment the first rasping breath leaves his gaunt body, Trevor Reznik is a compelling guide into the darkness. This is a story of two blurring worlds: the shadowy reality of Trevor Reznik’s world - the machine shop, his bleak apartment, his hooker girlfriend’s bleak apartment - and the black universe inside his head. On one of the few occasions he steps outside, into the wide-open, sunsplashed streets of his co-workers, we’re left blinking at the light. For this, we can thank a performance of incredible commitment by Christian Bale. He lost 63 pounds to capture the physical and psychological trauma of Reznik’s existence. It’s a remarkable transformation: Bale’s muscular torso is sucked between his ribcage as if his body is eating itself from the inside. His eyes are dull, shrunken holes. Every turn of the screw for Trevor is a painful spasm for us. But this is no voyeuristic thrill. Trevor’s Auschwitz appearance and cramped existence inspire too much sympathy for that.

40 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe

Even so, this is a bleak film; remorseless and unmerciful. Fear, guilt and paranoia so thoroughly permeate The Machinist that even during the happiest moments something unpleasant is lurking just out of sight. The thing that haunts Trevor, as we will come to understand, cannot be escaped. He is trapped - a prisoner in his own mind. Despite its unremitting bleakness, The Machinist is visually stunning and its morbidity is elegantly painted. Saturated with desolate grey, this is ice-pure cinema, a psychological horror of surgical precision. It holds you tight in its macabre embrace from beginning to end, exuding the forboding menace of Hitchcock and the beautiful, elegant surrealism of Lynch.


Pre-movie buzz focussed on Bale’s weight-loss. Reason enought to get excited.


Engaging throughout, with moments of greatness.

In Retrospect

Haunting and beautiful – a film you won’t quickly forget.


Somersault Released 4th March Director Cate Shortland Sam Worthington Starring Abbie Cornish, Lynette Curran, Erik Thomson

A film can get away with the

occasional cliché if it has strong characters and performances. Fortunately, Somersault is a lesson in compelling acting. If it wasn’t for director Cate Shortland’s fondness for hackneyed visuals, it would be almost perfect. Set in Australia, the tale of a teenage girl, Heidi, (played by Aussie youngster Abi Cornish) running away to find herself is hardly new. But the subtle insights into Heidi’s mind, and the consequences of her search for identity make Somersault a very different beast than its contemporaries.

42 the LiFe aQUatic iSSUe

After being caught kissing her mother’s boyfriend, Heidi runs away to a ski resort. Here she uses her budding sexuality as a means of survival. It is Somersault’s most disturbing aspect. Although 16years-old, Heidi looks barely a day over 12. The uneasiness of watching her is exaggerated by the innocence Cornish brings to the role. Yet this masks the fact that she is the initiator in every one of her sexual escapades. Heidi’s attention settles on a young farmer called Joe, (Sam Worthington) the only person, bar her landlady (brilliantly played by Lynette Curran), to try to develop a deeper relationship with her. Although easy to dismiss as just another gruff Aussie struggling to

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show emotion, Worthington delivers the standout performance of the film. Watching Joe with Heidi, you see the confusion and conflict going through his mind as he contemplates the fact that he might be falling for her. Somersault is a film crying out for simple direction, but Cate Shortland almost ruins the whole experience. Her tacky visuals serve only her own ungainly self-promotion. Spurious shots of Heidi walking in the snow wearing red mittens are gratuitous and frustrating. But these annoyances soon pass. The themes and emotions in Somersault are delicate and worthy of attention. As a character-led story it works perfectly. It’s just a

shame that Shortland tries to win the audience over with disappointing pretension.


Generated a lot of noise on its way from Australia. Everybody was hoping to be impressed.


Draws its audience in from the start. As are all the best films, it was two hours in another world.

In Retrospect

Sam and Heidi will stay in your head, growing more complex the longer you think about them.

mean creek School days are hard.

Anyone who thinks they’re the best days of their life is either deluded or trying to persuade their own kids to get up. In those teenage years when you chase girls behind bike sheds and choke on school dinners, you learn Rule One in the guidebook of living. Life is hard. And responsibility is even harder. Cinema is no stranger to growing pains. Films like Stand By Me and The Outsiders emphasise how, at some point in your childhood, the nightmare of responsibility is going to rudely interrupt your adolescent dreams. Jacob Aaron Estes has much the same point to make in Mean Creek. Like Stand By Me, Mean Creek is set in a small town in Oregon with a young, largely unknown cast. Rory Culkin, youngest of the acting clan and alien-dodging asthmatic in Signs, is the only recognisable face in an otherwise low budget and satisfyingly low key affair. He plays

Released 1st April Director Jacob Aaron Estes Starring Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck Carly Shroeder

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10-year-old Sam who, tormented by the bully George, inveigles his brother, Rocky, and their friends to take a brutal revenge. Their plan is to invite George on a boat trip down the Ohio River strip him and throw him in. As with all the best laid schemes of mice and men, however, things go awry when George stirs far more complicated emotions than anybody had expected. He’s a troubled kid with real issues, not a one dimensional horror show. The group becomes divided over whether to keep going with the trip; only the troubled Marty insisting the plan stays the same. Marty is a pressure cooker ready to explode, and when he does, the consequences are disastrous for all involved. At its best, Mean Creek is a stunning evocation of the cruelty of youth. The writing is as fluid and hard-hitting as the Ohio River; a perfect compliment to the slow, remorseless narrative. Estes

unforgivingly thrusts his camera into the cracks of this ramshackle posse, eviscerating the raw emotions of his young cast as the unwelcome spectre of adulthood and responsibility solidifies before them. The script is well served by a talented cast who all have the potential for extremely successful movie careers. Rory Culkin revels in the role of Sam, and Carly Schroeder, who plays his putative girlfriend Millie, has a natural air of innocence balanced on the lip of maturity. But the show is stolen by Scott Mechlowicz whose performance as Marty has the echoes of a young Brad Pitt. He manages to keep the audience on his side even though he fails to see George’s qualities or a reason not to take revenge. It’s in the final third that the film loses momentum, where the script becomes sluggish and loses its spark. What is a difficult emotional journey for the characters is an

unrewarding slog for the audience. Despite this, Estes perfectly captures the transition from innocence to maturity in just under an hour and twenty minutes. They say youth is wasted on the young. If it’s as hard as Mean Creek, they can keep it.


Great word of mouth tempered by the prospect of a cast of teenagers.


It might lose momentum towards the end, but the ferocity of the script is so powerful that, if it didn’t slow down, it would be in danger of derailing.

In Retrospect

Disappointment that a script and youthful precocity sometimes aren’t good enough. 43




Melinda & Melinda: so good they named it twice? Or so bad it hurts?

Being a fan of Woody Allen

is, like Melinda and Melinda, a depressingly awful comic tragedy. Like a battered wife blaming everybody but her husband, we give him every new chance to make up for the last time, and all we get is a slap in the face.

But as those trademark title credits roll you can’t help but get a little excited. White text on a black background

Released 25th March Director Woody Allen Starring Will Ferrell, Neil Pepe Stephanie Roth Haberle, Rhada Mitchell

overlaid with some old jazz 78, cast in alphabetical order, always

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ending on the once-legendary “Written and Directed by Woody Allen”. It’s part of the furniture of the movies, a pure buzz of cinema adrenalin.

The power of this classic iconography is in its indelible link to great films like Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan, and many others. It reminds us that, potentially, we should prime ourselves for another bar of cinema gold. Alas, Allen’s latest ensemble piece, Melinda and Melinda is quite possibly his most slight, ill-advised and slapdash film yet. Like a crippled nag, Allen’s racing days are over. In fact, on this evidence, you’d be forgiven for wanting to take him out back and put him out of his misery. Our tale begins in the trendy French bistro Pastis, in the meatpacking district of New York. We interrupt the conversation of four sophisticates, roll-necked and tweeded, discussing grand narratives in theatre and trading wry asides over Pinot Rouge. For those who’ve seen Broadway Danny Rose, it’s lazily familiar. Scoring an all-time low for limp set-ups, one of the silver-tongued thesps suggests a “classic” scene in which a lady (Melinda) interrupts

new york woody

n’s town and anyone new York is Woody Alle a Woody pilgrimage is thinking of embarking on melinda features and inda spoilt for choice. mel k eateries such as Pastis scenes at trendy new Yor er locations are ripe and il Buco, but what oth for a visit?

at 1254 second Avenue, hit the Beekman Theatre to meet Annie hall ned where Alvy singer plan Face. for a more downto see Bergman’s Face to s, (1703 second Avenue home feel there’s elaine’ t 89th street), the between east 88th and eas opening of Manhattan. restaurant featured in the reate the poster image for those wanting to re-c dy and diane Keaton sat of the bridge where Woo out Riverview Terrace in the foreground, check eath the 59th street on sutton square, just ben Manhattan. on the Bridge on the east side of that the fat cats downside, rumour has it d the bench. at city hall have remove

a dinner party. We then follow the two old hands as they battle it out. One tells the story from a comic perspective, the other tragic. Ironically, it’s the comic story that seems tragically ill-advised and the tragic story which is laughably overplayed. Oh boy. Rhada Mitchell struggles as the eponymous heroine(s) as we trace her emotional decline in one story and catharsis in the other. With each character as unexciting as the last, the only real treat here is the sublime Chiwetel Ejiofor as Ellis, the louche concert pianist and bastard. Allen cuts straight to the bone with Ellis whose passion, like all affable bourgeois Manhattenites, is to write operas while sporting a dazzling array of pastel knitwear. Ejiofor has star charisma. Even in a minor role, he’s the only person who’s not on board to add the obligatory Woody Allen film to his CV. By contrast, watch in disgust as the bafflingly overrated Chloe Sevigny’s placid expression works overtime, not so

much phoning-in her performance as sending it by pigeon post. The question you can’t escape is, “What the hell is this?” Melinda and Melinda can’t be a comedy because it’s not funny. Unless you define a ‘one-liner’ as a line that only one member of the audience laughs at. The plain truth is that this movie feels dated before the popcorn has popped. There’s nothing fresh: every shot, every line, every plot strand, every piece of music seems to have been prized out of one of Allen’s previous, better films.

Even Allen’s beloved New York has an unintentionally surreal edge. Notice how all the Brownstones have had their “fuck you” graffiti removed and the winos who populate Central Park have been replaced with joggers carrying de

Tales of the inept booking agen t, danny Rose were traded by a group of comedians at The carnegie deli on 854 seventh Avenue. The st. Regis-sherato n hotel (2 east 55th street) is where Michael caine and Barb ara hershey conducted their clandestine affair in hannah and her Sisters after bumping into one another at Pageant Prin t and Book store (now the central Bar), located at 109 east ninth street in the east Village. central Park has become a stapl e in Woody Allen films. its most recent appearances inclu de anything else and melinda and melinda in scenes of sunbleached trees surrounded by joggers in gay scarves. it also featured in some of his older and, frankly, better films inclu ding annie hall, manhattan and Bullets over broa dway.

Beauvoir and guava juice. It’s this cheery romanticism and rejection of modern reality that makes Melinda and Melinda difficult to swallow. From this evidence, you get the feeling that Allen has annexed himself from society for the last 10 years, recycling scripts he wrote on the back of cigarette packets during the seventies. Anything Else? This is shit.


Looking forward to a Woody Allen film is like looking forward to wanking – you know you shouldn’t but you just can’t help it.


Recommended for Woody Allen biographers and close family members only.

In Retrospect

Disappointment. Disillusionment. Depression. Does great talent just disappear? 45


















Chapter 03



LWLies selects some ofalthe most inuenti directors of our

generation, whose work is redeďŹ ning and pushing the boundaries of movie culture.



Paul Thomas Anderson by Danny Miller

Paul Thomas Anderson paints pictures with the bold confidence of a modern master. His ability as a writer is to portray the endless complexity of the human experience with a warmth and understanding far beyond his years. His genius as a director is to breathe light, colour and substance into these words: to elevate film to a level of almost magical purity. His masterpiece, Magnolia, is a terrifying and powerful study of human dislocation. Its opening quarter is a head-fuck of invasive camerawork and dissonant sound, conducted by Anderson like a dizzying symphony. Similarly, Punch-Drunk Love is a cacophany of noise - as disorientating as love itself. As the lives of Boogie Nights drug addled protagonists spiral out of control, Anderson’s camera goes on the move: as unsettling as the story, as infused with total confidence.

Wes Anderson

Darren Aronofsky

by Zoe Paxton

by Jonathan Crocker

Characters make Wes Anderson great. Not only because they are exquisite creations in themselves, but because they so neatly embody the themes of worlds that they and we inhabit. Variously melancholics, dreamers and outsiders they are, like Holden Caulfield, the misfits with whom a generation can identify. With Anderson, as in the books of JD Salinger and Roald Dahl, the child is hero: he speaks honestly and directly to a youthful society. While the irrepressible heroes of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore might be severely lacking in selfawareness, their characteristics are not flaws Sic transit gloria – glory fades – is Anderson’s motto. A school of thought that views adulthood as something to be resisted. Dreamers like Max Fischer are pupils of that school.

Anderson’s films are punctuated with moments of staggering collapse. His sympathetic understanding of the world allows him to offer us stories of friendship and family, death and betrayal, love and rejection that are all fully realised - rich with the magic of cinema, but always entirely human.

The unrelenting self-belief of this youthful generation is something to be celebrated. It is no coincidence that the most sympathetic adult characters – Rushmore’s Mr Blume and Miss Cross (herself a distant cousin of the lovely Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda) – live in a state of perpetual childhood.

PT Anderson is our modern day beacon of filmic excellence. We see it in his understanding, at times in his subtlety, and at others through scenes of apocalyptic self-destruction. We see it in the strength that love brings to Barry Egan, the earnest passion that success brings to Dirk Diggler, or the bitter anger at the past that finds Frank TJ Mackey at his father’s deathbed. Anderson invigorates his films with a sense of the real, while retaining the mythical quality of cinema. As quiz kid Stanley put it himself: “This happens. This is something that happens”.

Far from using his characters’ lack of selfawareness ironically, Anderson’s achievement is to quietly bring us round to their hopeful way of seeing themselves, and the world, more generally. When it comes to the characters, his films have a way of emotionally doubling back on themselves, forcing us to take a step back, reassess our perceptions, and abandon our cynicism.

Filmography Hard Eight (1996) Boogie Nights (1997) Magnolia (1999) Punch Drunk Love (2002)

Filmography Bottle Rocket (1996) Rushmore (1998) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)

Two years and two films. That’s all it took for Manhattan writer/director Darren Aronofsky to announce himself as the most exciting filmmaker to hit Hollywood in decades. First came Pi, a frenzied lo-fi psycho-drama of maths and madness in which frazzled number-cruncher Sean Gullette attempts to decipher existence itself. Cerebral, intense and convulsing with stylish chaos, it was an indie eye-popper that had cult audiences raising eyebrows and scratching heads. But it was Aronofsky’s first studio project Requiem For A Dream that really skyrocketed him into the stratosphere. Tracing the addictions of hipster junkies Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly, and weight-pill-obsessed mother Ellen Burstyn as their dreams turn to nightmares, his adap of Hubert Selby Jr’s novel is about as traumatic and sensational as cinema gets. With its dynamite editing, surrealist jolts and shattering performances, Requiem fused the stylistic pyrotechnics of David Fincher with the concussive emotional wallop of PT Anderson for one astonishing cinema experience. Aronofsky seemed to be stitching new pages into the cinematic grammar-book as he went along. And after this double-barrelled celluloid salvo? Silence. Attached to tantalising comic-book adaps of Batman Begins and Watchmen, only to drop out each time, Aronofsky has disappeared off the radar as quickly and enigmatically as he appeared. So what, exactly, has kept Aronofsky out of the spotlight? That would be The Fountain, a project that’s taken the director five years to complete. “It’s a post-Matrix, metaphysical sci-fi movie,” explains Aronofsky. “And it’s very different to anything you’ve seen.” He’s the most exciting filmmaker to hit Hollywood in decades and you’ve probably forgotten about him already. Chances are, that’s about to change... Filmography Pi (1998) Requiem For A Dream (2000)


David Gordon Green by David Jenkins

The films of David Gordon Green are deceptively simple. They are a master class in illustrating the complex feelings behind the most basic of human actions. Whether it’s trust, companionship, death, love or the death of love, Green as a writer and director has succeeded in winching pure emotion from places that others leave untouched. It is this clarity of vision that makes watching his films so pleasurable. Perhaps “watching” is not the right word. “Admire” is better. Green’s long time collaborator, Tim Orr, is a photograper with the uncanny ability of turning the rustic, paint-flecked housing and dilapidated surroundings of Green’s native Appalachian high-country into high art, giving his films a narcotic tinge of hyper-realism. These films are invested with the lifeblood of a bygone era. Green has confessed to being aesthetically inspired by the drive-in’s and Bmovies of the seventies: films such as Macon County Line, Butch Cassidy and, of course, Days of Heaven. The bittersweet intimacy and bucolic allure of the Deep South are deeply and fondly embedded in his first two pictures. In the same way that Terrence Malick captured the hazy hue of the modern Deep South in Days Of Heaven, Green’s George Washington and All the Real Girls achieve a similar tactile sensibility and closeness of heart. Watching a David Gordon Green film is like reading Proust in a sauna. Green’s films don’t fit easily into genre constraints. Those who try and carve a niche are often vague. His forthcoming Undertow is officially his first foray into genre filmmaking. However, he has assured us that, as is customary for this new breed of directors, the human condition will always come top of his list of priorities. Filmography George Washington (2000) All The Real Girls (2003) Undertow (2004)

Alejandro González Iñárritu by Andrew Davidson

Life is disconnection. A series of coincidences that give some people a second chance and some no chance at all. This is the difficult truth that Iñárritu explores in his ground-breaking films Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Both show human vulnerability and the invisible connections that bind us, however unwillingly, to the people we meet. Iñárritu unflinchingly examines the breakdown of human relationships, the malaise that has struck the newborn 21st century. In Amores Perros the street dogs are the objects of sympathy, the tramp who cares for them a faceless stranger. Life is choices, and when we choose not to care about people, we give up a piece of our own humanity. It is only through a great shock or disaster that we regain some sort of perspective. In both films a car crash and the loss of something fundamental are the catalysts for reflection and change. Jack Jordan regains his trust in family and humanity but only after a man’s heart has died twice, only after he has come to terms with what happened, only after he has stopped running. Iñárritu is a documenter of human life, human emotion. His films are snapshots of moments: of passion; anger; desperation; or grief. He does not flinch from the weakness of the human spirit. He glamorises nothing but shows us what he believes is the truth. The world of the flesh is fragile, Iñárritu acknowledges, and it takes a lot, perhaps too much, to regain what is so easily lost. Yet he does not criticise or offer any sort of solution aside from what can only happen naturally and what fate or random chance gives us. Iñárritu is a director who does not place himself above any of the characters or events in his films. His movies are documents of life as it shows itself to him: painful and unremitting, but inexpressibly true. Filmography Amores Perros (2000) 21 Grams (2003)

Spike Jonze by Matthew Bochenski

Spike Jonze has no place in the company of great directors. He’s more than that. He’s a visionary, a cinematic linguist, the kind of once-in-a-generation filmmaker who redraws the landscape in his own image. You could analyse his impact, wax lyrical with lit-crit film theory 101. You could talk about the kernel of greatness evident from the outset, in his genesis as an MTV gunslinger. You could talk about the reckless bravado of that First Act, captured in promos for The Beastie Boys, Feeder, Bjork and beyond. How Sabotage shows his instinct for narrative, Oh So Quiet his love of the filmmaker’s art. How he can be playful or perverse, but never less than irresistible. You could trace his development, the incandescent bloom of Malkovich, the effervescence of his imagination, in concert with the mad genius of Charlie Kaufman. His postmodernism, his fearlessness, Adaptation: the unblinking commitment to this mad hatter’s tea party. You could do all these things, and still you wouldn’t achieve anything. You may understand the mind of the man, but you’ll never hear the heartbeat. Spike Jonze gave a voice to something nameless and made it sing. Before Spike, the smug, middleclass media and their Movie Brat iconoclasm deliberately alienated and mis-characterised the ‘MTV Generation’. In his afterglow, he transformed the perception of a new wave of filmmaking. No flash-in-the-pan con artist, no technophile trickster, Jonze merged the sensibilities of ‘serious’ movie making and style-conscious modernism, then obliterated that tired cliche with an authority born of genius. In doing so, he silenced the baby-boomer culture vultures mired in the dreams of a faded youth, lashing out with contempt at the new dreams of their children. No voice of youth was ever as piercing as Spike Jonze, the crystal clear sound of a new age dawning. Filmography Being John Malkovich (1999) Adaptation (2002)




Christopher Nolan

Alexander Payne

by Anthony Brookes

by Adrian Sandiford

Whether it’s the disjointed narrative of Following, or the head-fuck originality of Memento, Christopher Nolan announced his arrival with ambition, innovation and a visceral intelligence. Memento - that ‘difficult second film’ – is his calling card, a movie that breaks all the rules. Sure, it’s influenced by everything from Graham Swift to Jon Boorman, but it’s still staggeringly virtuosic. That infamous structure, the disorientation, the confusion – all frame Nolan’s talent for showing the world through peculiar, unreliable eyes. More recently, in Insomnia, he proved he could take this dislocated aesthetic to the mainstream. As Al Pacino’s Detective Dormer fights to keep control of his inner turmoil after accidentally killing his partner, Nolan proved himself to be more than a stylist, crafting a drum-tight crime thriller that channels everything from Alfred Hitchcock to Bryan Singer. But the real work for Christopher Nolan is only just beginning. His talent has not gone unrewarded, and his next project, Batman Begins, is not only his most ambitious yet, but potentially the beginning of a whole new phase of the blockbuster era. With genre stalwarts Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson blazing the trail, Nolan could be the man to bridge the divide between indie credibility and blockbuster muscle. The prospect of a Batman movie from a “Nolan-esque” perspective is a mouth-watering proposition, one that, should he get it right, will cement his position as the rarest of Hollywood beasts: a studio darling of real vision, tinged with the aura of greatness. Filmography Following (1998) Memento (2000) Insomnia (2002)

Our culture’s defining paradigm is the promised nirvana of consumerism. We’re swamped by an advertising beast snarling a persistent message that purchases will make us better, happier, more fulfilled. Yet amidst the pursuit of these dreams, the bitter taste of our own inadequacies remains. Step forward Alexander Payne. His comic-dramas consistently deal with the neuroses and failings of ordinary people: the downfall of teacher Jim McAllister in Election; retired insurance actuary Warren Schmidt’s existential emptiness in About Schmidt; the disappointments of Sideways’ unpublished novelist Miles Raymond. Payne offers an alternative view: his films reject the easy opiate of superficial happiness. The recurring theme of his characters, whether in high-school or a motor-home, is that the human landscape is littered with the despair encountered on the quest for fulfilment. His work is refreshingly sincere, acknowledging the complex realities of life. We’re not perfect, we make stupid decisions, and life continually concertinas between hilarity and sadness. Payne understands all this and, rather than trying to spin a lie, creates a world which gives us permission to feel this way. He’s not a flash artist. Payne’s strength is to direct films with tone and style, and to coax subtle, empathetic performances. The independent feel of his voice – one that he has maintained, with final cut rights to his films, despite working within the studio system – is a belief in honest filmmaking and character-driven story telling. His visionary outlook is to tell stories that, although bittersweet, ultimately reassure us that we are not alone in the self-doubt and insecurity of modern times.

Andy & Larry Wachowski by Adrian D’enrico

The Wachowski’s: Twice the vision; twice the flair; twice the potential? It started with Bound, an effortless pastiche of Mob bravado shot in sexy slow-mo and studied simplicity. This is the seed that eventually bloomed within The Matrix, as technology caught up with the Wachowski’s vision. Bound is arguably their finest work, yet The Matrix is their most famous. Appealing to every fetish fantasy, it ticks all the items on an uber-cool teenage wish-list. It was little surprise it gained notoriety and awards. Unfortunately, then they got carried away. Let’s not chastise them – we’d all abuse our passions if we had the budget. It’s just a symbol of their freedom of expression, being unconstrained by a film school education – something they never had. But they’re clever. Oh yes. Rarely do filmmakers match their pace and delivery. Stylistically, there’s quality to be found in their simplicity. Black is definitely back. But it works well. Simple. Filmography Bound (1996) The Matrix (1999) The Matrix Reloaded (2003) The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Filmography Citizen Ruth (1996) Election (1999) About Schmidt (2002) Sideways (2004)


”This ain’t rock ‘n’ roll - this is genocide” (David Bowie: Future Legend)



and Cracked Emerald:


The lasting appeal of David Bowie is that he’s impossible to pin down. Maybe he’s not the absolute master of the genres he dabbles in, but he gloriously refuses to belong to any one time or any one musical movement. By using theatrical alter egos, he’s been able to create his music of choice. But while free to wander through the decades, his disguises have been bound to the time and the music they were created to serve. Thus the magnificently distressed Pierrot outfit that Bowie wears on the cover of Scary Monsters and Super Creeps is tied by the teeth and feet to that album’s redefining and retrospective eighties sound. The apotheosis of Bowie’s alter-egos is that strutting beauty Ziggy Stardust. The bright red hair, tight-fitting clothes and heavily applied makeup brought beauty, extravagance, sexual ambiguity and hysterical drama to rock. Bowie himself killed Ziggy in public at the Hammersmith Odeon in ’73, but continued to play the part of the glam star, even without a name, until the start of ’75 – when he became the blue-eyed plastic soul man of the Young Americans period. The Guy Peelaert artwork on the front of Bowie’s ’74 album Diamond Dogs shows Ziggy reclining – hairdo intact – though what strikes about him is that he is half-dog. It suggests a gradual bestial change was taking effect: from one beast into an entirely different one. The album may be glam rock, and certainly “Rebel Rebel” and the title track fit comfortably into the genre, but it has a very hard and frightening edge to it. Several of the tracks were written for Bowie’s mooted stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. The theatrical interpretation never came to be, but songs such as “We are the Dead” and “Big Brother” draw very obviously on themes from the dystopian classic. Along with the end of the world paranoia, Diamond Dogs leans towards both the plastic soul

he would take on in Young Americans (Rock And Roll With Me) and also pre-guesses the entire punk wave that was soon to sweep aside the bloated corpse of progressive rock throughout Britain. It is also home to the only true Glam-rock epic – “Sweet Thing” – a song of frighteningly fabulous nature that also embraced the grubbiness that Bowie increasingly epitomised. It is, by turns, Gothic, Romantic and political. Sung by Bowie in an incredible range – from low baritone to high falsetto – it creates true moments of musical drama and feeling. It’s a hymnal prayer and a call-to-arms for a generation of star-gazers that came two years too late. It may be the swan song of an entire generation of Britain’s youth. It is, in short, a Glam Manifesto that celebrates and, at the same time, stops dead an entire musical and youth movement. After this point, glam became glitter – and Noddy Holder, with his big boots, fancy hat and Black Country growl, became its cartoonish figurehead.

The glam dream of youth being empowered, is over. Lyrical images such as the name checking of Charles Manson make for a chilling listen. No more starry-eyed innocence here. During the middle section, “Candidate”, Bowie descends into utter mania. Brief respite comes from the “Reprise” and its saxophone call, and Bowie’s closing line of ‘It’s got me, it’s got you’ suggest a feeling of harmony and unity. This is quickly shattered by a fucked up guitar riff that descends into screeching distortion. It’s nice to note that the doom laden “Sweet Thing” neatly segues into “Rebel Rebel”: the former a doom-obsessed master work and the latter a footstomping boogie on down piece of text book glam. Glam killed off and reborn in a few notes.



AliensOf The Deep Until as recently as 1860 it was thought that life could not exist below 1800 feet. The first telegraph cable across the Atlantic ocean changed this. Dropped to a depth of 6000 ft, they were, when retrieved found to be covered with numerous types of marine life.


Light penetrates the ocean to a depth of about 200m. After that, there is only ambient blue light. This allows the inhabitants to hide a number of tricks up their sleeves. Various types of jellyfish, like the Atolla, are a variety of dark reds and browns in colour; but many deep water crustacea are bright orange. They get away with it because natural light doesn’t reveal this particular colour.

The darkness hides a multitude of aquatic sins. Creatures that do exist at great depths have had to adapt to their surroundings, and have ended up looking somewhat unusual. Often, they are staggeringly ugly.


Many deep sea fish have huge mouths in relation to their bodies. The flattened body and oversized, angry-looking head of the hatchet fish is a good example. This most versatile of fish has evolved to have a highly elastic stomach so it can eat a huge amount in one sitting, allowing for large gaps between meals.


Phyloplankton, the basic plants that provide nutrients in the water to sustain marine life, cannot grow where there is no sunlight. As a result, if you live below a certain depth, finding food is tricky. Things that snuff it in the shallower waters sink, but this is an unreliable source of food for the scavengers below.

In 1977 it was discovered that life exists under the sea without the aid of any energy from the sun. The organisms that exist on chemical energy supplied by hydrothermal vents are hugely varied, ranging from molluscs to eight-foot long tube worms. Since 1977, ten new species have been discovered every day, and these creatures are thought to be behind the origins of life on Earth.

James Cameron’s new IMAX documentary Aliens of the Deep invites the audience to look at the ocean and imagine what kinds of life may one day be found on other planets. Conditions are harsh and unyielding, and because of this astronauts use them for training purposes before going into space; they replicate the conditions better than any simulation.


Selected Filmography Snowstorm of the Jungle.

Behind-the-scenes documentary in which Cousteau and his crew take a trip down the Amazon River. Remarkable for its detailed preparations for the trip.

Lilliput in Antarctica.

Cousteau takes six children to see whales, seals and penguins on the great continent.

Waters of Sorrow. Twilight of the Alaskan Hunter.

Interesting for their lack of self consciousness and pretension. Establish the sense of theatre that was to bring Cousteau a cult following.

The Great White Shark: Lonely Lord of the Sea. Mediterranean: Cradle or Coffin?

Visually impressive and notable for their strong environmental message. Shot on a budget of pennies. Classic examples of Cousteau’s signature style: deadpan and endearingly honest, even when his adventures don’t go according to plan.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

words by JONATHAN WILLIAMS illustration by rosÉ LU CONT

Will the Real Steve Zissou Please Stand Up?

The distinctive orange hat, the series of bizarrely named short films, the constant struggle for funding, and

the death of a key team member. The parallels between Jacques Cousteau and Steve Zissou are so great that the Cousteau Society deserves a producing credit on The Life Aquatic. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was one of the 20th century’s greatest characters: inspired; passionate; confrontational and adventurous. Cousteau had a profound impact on cinema and the environmental movement, and revolutionised undersea exploration. Originally trained as a fighter pilot, Cousteau


chanced upon his new career after a serious car accident forced him to turn to swimming to improve movement in a damaged left arm. It was through snorkelling with his friend Philippe Taillez that Cousteau first fell in love with the ocean. The pair, along with another keen snorkeller, Frederic Dumas, created the world’s first aqualung, a piece of equipment that revolutionised undersea exploration and in one stroke invented the sport of diving. The obvious next step was to document this new world. The Second World War put these plans on hold. For five years Cousteau worked for the French Resistance, stealing code books and leading teams of human mine searchers. After

the war, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur – France’s highest decoration. In 1948 he returned to undersea exploration, and it is his career as a filmmaker that offers the greatest insight into Cousteau’s mind. He never considered himself a scientist, claiming the purpose of his work was to convey the wonder of the sea. Until his death in 1997, Cousteau was still making films and concentrating his efforts on the Cousteau Society, even designing a brand new Turbo-Sail – a cargo ship driven entirely by wind power. Jacques Cousteau was undoubtedly an eccentric fellow and he was often criticised for his un-scientific methods, but what his life and his films reveal is a passion for the sea that has rarely been matched.

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Her willingless to be naked. Her smoky Spanish accent. Her impressive list of collaborators. Her single status. Sex and Lucia Her refreshing, unMediterranean hairlessness. Her coal dark eyes. Her apparent purity of hear t. Her readiness to eschew the Hollywood power game. Her willingless to be naked.

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C4 camping it up to Les Rythmes Digitales, but now some chaps over at DDB London have pissed all over Citroën’s chips by resurrecting Gene e Kelly and teaching him to break-danc like a motherfucker. Recreating the classic scene from 1952’s Singin’ In The Rain, Gene struts his shit down an alleyway en route to his brand new Golf GTI, ascending lamp-posts, swivelling out of puddles, and spinning on various parts of his body en route. Volkswagen describe it as “a positive, energetic and exciting celebration of a classic film moment designed to engage its audience in a nostalgic way, but it also has a modern day feel.” We say: do you think Gene Kelly would’ve driven a Golf?

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Chapter 06


20 Wolf Creek

Nominated for an award in the Best World Cinema category at Sundance, Wolf Creek is new Australian horror fodder of the Texas Chain Saw variety. Firsttime director Greg McLean has taken the true story of three backpackers killed by a Mick Dundee-esque knifewielding maniac and turned it into a taught and grisly slasher. See it then cancel your Gap year.

19 Elizabeth Town

After losing his girlfriend and job, Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is on the edge. On the journey back to his small Kentucky hometown to carry out his father’s last wishes, Baylor falls in love with flight-attendant Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst). A romantic comedy written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Legend.



Made up entirely of home movie footage, taken from his childhood to the present day, Jonathan Caouette’s documentary about his mother’s mental illness should offer a welcome change from the Michael Moore style that has dominated the genre recently. Made for a budget of $218 this film has generated a lot of hype, but then, he did have 25 years to get it right.



17 Kingdom Of Heaven After kicking off the whole swords’n’sandals shindig back in 1998, it’s amazing just how much is riding on Ridley Scott’s new movie after last year’s crapfest. Based on a legendary script by William Monahan, Heaven stars Orlando Bloom as Ibelin, a young blacksmith in Jerusalem caught up in God’s own butchery. Controversial? We hope so.

16 Brick

Taking Phillip Marlow’s gumshoe noir as a template, this kids at high-school crime thriller could choke on its own cojones. There’s been a murder, and budding crime fighter Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to know who done it. With plenty of injokes, camera tricks and a script straight out of forties Hollywood, early word suggests this could be a hit of Donnie Darko proportions.

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13 Paris, Je T’aime

Described as a “cinematographic spectacle”, Paris, Je T’aime could be the first cine-essay seen by more than eight people worldwide. The film is divided into 20 sections (or “arrondisements”), each directed by a different auteur from around the globe. The aim is to create one, surging vision of modern Paris. With the Coens, Gondry and Godard already on board, could it be the greatest gathering of talent since The Breakfast Club?

And The 12 Charlie Fac tor y Chocolate

Tim Burton’s probably demented take on the fantastical sweet factory. Johnny Depp should amaze as Wonka, while Roald Dahl’s peculiar weirdness may have finally found its match in Burton.

11 Sin City

Based on the graphic novels of Yukito Kishiro, James Cameron is preparing to utilise his new toy, the digital Sony SR compression camera, for the story of a teenage girl cyborg in a post apocalyptic society. Mixing live action with CG, hopes are high that Cameron will manage to capture the intensity of his source material.

10 The Corpse Bride

Nineteenth-century fiancé Victor (Johnny Depp) is forced to marry a murdered corpse (Helena Bonham-Carter) in the underworld, instead of true love Victoria (Emily Watson). You’ll never guess, but this is another Tim Burton outing; a welcome return to stop-motion animation and another dark, idiosyncratic film.

Think Nineteen Eighty-Four meets post-nuclear-war England enslaved by one Adolf ‘Fuck You’ Hitler. Enter V, a masked vigilante emerging from the shadows to wreak beautiful havoc. The Wachowski Brothers are back in action, inking Alan Moore’s stunning comic-book thriller for the screen and tapping Natalie Portman to star.

14 Batman Begins The Dark Knight returns in Christopher Nolan’s Miller-esque origin tale. Christian Bale straps on the utility belt, while the all-star, cross-Atlantic support includes Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Katie Holmes.


09 The New World Six years after Malick achieved cinematic perfection (yes, he did) with The Thin Red Line, he returns with a stellar cast and a self-penned script about 17th –century explorer John Smith and his bloody clashes with the British and Native Americans. Yes, it’s Pocahontas, but with Malick-sized knobs on.

08 The Depar ted Martin Scorsese and new muse DiCaprio buddy up for their third film collaboration on the bounce. A remake of Hong Kong cop-thriller Infernal Affairs, it’s a welcome departure from Scorsese’s last two ‘big’ movies. Also featuring Matt Damon (who replaces Brad Pitt) and Jack Nicholson.

07 A Scanner Darkly

Head-fuck sci-fi god Philip K Dick has long inspired Hollywood. His metaphysical obsessions are once again at play in Richard Linklater’s new film, adapted from his own screenplay. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochrane in a futuristic, drug-funked America.

06 Battle Angel

Yet another gritty comicbook classic makes the big-screen leap. Frank Miller’s urban fable already looks like a unique slice of dirty grindhouse, thanks to helmer Robert Rodriguez’s mad vision. Also packs the year’s best cast: Clive Owen, Benicio del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and, erm, Bruce Willis all star.


05 War Of The Worlds Space-man Steve hits the big, big, big screen with a contemporary re-telling of HG Wells’ classic scifi pulp. The Cruiser stars as Ray Ferrier, an Everyday Joe trying to save his family from the attack. Will the aliens have used their intergalactic ass-kicking technology to invent Lemsip? Tune in and find out.


04 Watchmen If the first act of graphicnovel adaps was defined by spandex, Spidey and a splash of primary colour, Alan Moore’s Hugo Awardwinning Watchmen heralded a new dawn – a meaner, darker interpretation of the comic-book world. Part detective noir, part superhero psychology, Watchmen is already heading in the right direction, with Paul Greengrass set to helm.

03 The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy It’s finally on its way. Directed by Garth Jennings, the film promises to be a loyal adaptation of the cult classic featuring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, Mos Def as Ford Prefect and Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast. Don’t panic.

g 02 Kin Kong

Any film about monkeys is reason to get excited. But apparently this is a remake of a black-and-white effort, directed by some bloke who’s been making a bit of a name for himself on the quiet. Or so we’re told. Maybe it’ll slip into your local arthouse come December. Check listings for details. 80 THE LIFE AQUATIC ISSUE

01 The Fountain

Expectation? The third film from the crackerjack writer/ director behind Pi and Requiem For A Dream reeks of the stuff. Cloaked in secrecy, plagued by development trauma and now achingly close to release, Darren Aronofsky’s metaphysical sci-fi romance promises to scorch retinas and fuck minds like no movie this year. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star. We anticipate.


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