Category Archives: Film School

Friday Film Club: Ready or Not + Frank

DOUBLEFEATURE - 2020-07-01T142328.852
Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Ready or Not (2019)

ready or not

Every wealthy family has their secrets and very much so for the Le Domas who run the Le Domas Family Games company who has their own wedding night ritual. When the youngest brother Alex (Mark O’Brien) gets married to a “normal girl” Grace (Samara Weaving), she ends up meeting his very odd family and introduced to their wedding ritual to honor their family business and that is to draw a card from their prized possession, Le Bail’s puzzle box which names a game they must play as initiation. Grace draws “Hide-and-Seek” which turns out to be the deadliest choice in the pile when she finds out that she is now being hunted by the entire family in their locked down mansion.

Ready Or Not might seem like an escape room sort of deal and some twisted family. While the Le Domas family is a bit odd, they definitely fit into the dark comedy element presented for the movie as it’s obvious that this draw is not frequent. Through the movie, it’s much more than that as Grace outsmarts each of the members of the family, it becomes clear that the Le Domas have no choice to do this and their own reasons as we learn who Le Bail is and what the puzzle box is all about. The story itself being deeper than what its presented at the beginning along with a fast-paced chase around the house with each of the characters having their own agenda and quirky personality all adds to this being both violent but comedic and striking a nice balance between the two.

Each of the members of Le Domas family as well as Grace is so colorful. The standout would of course go to Samara Weaving who has been landing these crazy roles in the indie film realm and yet again, pulls off a great role with Grace. The unknown factor is where each person feels about this Hide and Seek game on hand. The female characters actually play mostly the stronger roles just like the intense Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) and Grace’s mother in law (Andie MacDowell) who has more of a calm and manipulative personality. However, Alex’s character also has its inner conflict much like his brother Daniel (Adam Brody) who ends up  having quite a surprising turn of events in their choices.

Ready or Not is a fast-paced fun dark comedy thriller. It’s violent and intense at times yet at the same time, there are moments of dark comedy elements that relieve the tension a little. With some well-written characters and a unique twist to the story, it’s an absolute blast to watch.

 

Elwood’s Pick – Frank (2014)

tumblr_n43f36xIxP1tu1ckro1_500

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a struggling songwriter who after witnessing the keyboardist for the experimental band the Soronprfbs trying to drown himself, Jon finds himself drafted into the band as his replacement while at the same time being transfixed by their lead singer Frank who constantly wears a papier-mache mask over his head as he embarks on a journey of musical experimentation and sheer randomness as the band head to a remote cabin to record their debut album which like much of their music seems to be more about organised chaos and Frank chasing band members with a shovel than any kind of traditional songwriting as they create the sort of experimental noise making reminiscent of The Pixies and which somehow manages to get into your head so that you likely find yourself humming a few bars of “I love Wall”.

Inspired by Frank Sidebottom the fringe comedy persona of Chris Sievey who I’m not actually sure anyone outside of the UK might have actually heard of despite him being a regular fixture on early 90’s kids TV and the Madchester scene were he essentially gigged with everyone even at one playing his own support act. Still while the film is co-written by his former bandmate Jon Ronson this is not a biopic but rather a film inspired by his persona with Sievey giving his backing to the film shortly before his death, while Ronson drew further inspiration from the likes of Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.

As weird as things get on this journey though, there is always this feeling of inclusion than the feeling the film is trying to be weird for the sake of things, thanks largely to Jon whose confused and often baffled responses to the things happening around him help provide an anchor to the film while in many ways representing the audiences viewing experience while at the same time Frank despite his unique appearance is such a warm and friendly soul as he offers to describe his facial expressions like warm smile as he hides under his paper-mache mask his own insecurities and an illusive personal history as the film gets gradually darker during it’s second half as Jon is corrupted more by the allure of fame, giving us the kind of personality shift that Gleeson does so well.

While perhaps not a film I would work into my regular rotation its still an engaging and enjoyable watch and one which certainly I felt myself thinking about several days after I saw it, For fans of Frank Sidebottom it’s kind of a unique tribute to Chris Sievey’s comedy alter ego while fans wanting a look at his life can hunt down the documentary Being Frank: The Chris Sievey story for a better look at the man inside the mask.

 

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

 

Let us know in the comments section below.

Film School: Ang Lee

I trust the elusive world created by movies more than anything else” – Ang Lee

Born in Taiwan after his family fled China’s civil war Lee originally aspiring to be an actor after seeing Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring he came to the US in 1979 were he completed his bachelor’s degree in theatre the following year. However finding acting difficult due to his issues with speaking English so made the move to directing.

Studying for his MFA in film production in New York alongside Spike Lee whose thesis Joe’s Bed-stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads Lee worked on while his own thesis the 43-minute drama Fine Line (1984) won him the NYU’s Wasserman Award for Outstanding Direction. However despite his early success it would be another six years before Lee finally broke into the industry after winning first and second in a screenplay competition which caught the attention of Hsu Li-kong who saw a freshness in lee’s unique style inviting him to direct his debut film Pushing Hands which ended up being released as his third film in the US after the success of The Wedding Banquet which would be the first Chinese film to address the subject of homosexuality and Eat Drink Man Woman which completed his Father Knows Best trilogy.

Ang-Lee-set-Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon

After this early success of his first three films the attention they brought to his work soon saw him transitioning effortlessly into the Hollywood studio system Lee moved away from writing to focus on directing working mainly with producer and writer James Schamus who along with editor Tim Squyres has worked on the majority of his films even joining him on his occasional returns to Asian cinema with the critically acclaimed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the erotic espionage period thriller Lust, Caution

Unlike many directors who find a genre / style of film they find most appealing Ang Lee is a director who seemingly is able to adapt himself to any type of film from social satires and period dramas to comic book and Wuxia movies demonstrating a rare versatility as a director as there is seemingly no genre that Lee is not willing to turn his hand to all while maintaining a highly visual style which has only developed with each film, while he has continued to find ways to find to explore the themes of family, repression, duty and most key thwarted love and desire.

Filmography

 

aa5b443455b880242c577270b98b8b20.png

Pushing Hands (1991)
The Wedding Banquet (1993)
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
The Ice Storm (1997)
Ride With The Devil (1999)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Hulk (2003)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Lust, Caution (2007)
Taking Woodstock (2009)
Life of Pi (2012)
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)
Gemini Man (2019)

Director Trademarks

  • Cultural Taboos – Never one to shy away from controversy in his films Lee has often focused on characters facing dilemas over their actions and choice going over what is considered expectable in particular homosexuality wether it be the son hiding his true self from his parents like we see in The Wedding Banquet or the homosexual awakening between two shepherds in Brokeback Mountain both films released when gay rights were still fighting to have the same recognition as heterosexual relationships.
  • Dysfunctional Families – Family life in Lee’s films is rarely portrayed without issues lying under the surface, even when dealing with the comic book adaptation of The Incredible Hulk in Hulk Bruce Banner’s family is not without it’s issues while for The Ice Storm it’s the dysfunction of two neighbouring families which form the catylist for the plot.
  • Changing Times – While traditions and opinions might seem set in stone Lee’s films will often show these ideas being challenged or characters journey facing a crossroad in their lives as they are forced to adapt to the times.
  • Cultural Clashes – Seen especially with his early films the traditions of the East and West are often shown as being in conflict with each other with characters often being forced to choose between their current past and honouring the traditions of their culture.

Film School: Sofia Coppola

“I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.”
— Sofia Coppola

Director, producer, Oscar-winning screenwriter, actor, model, fashion-label owner, photographer. Sofia Coppola is both the ultimate insider, born into the famous Coppola dynasty, muse to Marc Jacobs and married to a rock star (Phoenix’s Thomas Mars), yet at the same time frequently making films critiquing the phony world of Hollywood a fact, some might see as biting the hand that feeds, as a privileged filmmaker attacking celebrity culture while happily drawing on an extraordinary network of contacts.

Starting out as an actress in her father’s film making appearences in the Godfather trilogy before stepping into the role of Michael Corlone’s daughter for part 3 when Winnona Ryder dropped out, only for critics to savagely highlight her flat performance, critisism that still seems to follow her around today.

coppola-e1547582979962

However when it came to following in the family legacy her first writing piece came with her father’s portion of “New York Stories” with the segment Life without Zoe about a schoolgirl who live in a luxury hotel and helps an Arab princess recover her stolen jewelry. Rather than choosing at this point to further pursue this inital break Coppola instead opted to studying painting before switching to photography which inturn has carried over to her work often being noted with her shot construction.

As a director her work draws influence from the French New Wave and Italian Neorealism which she was introduced to through her father while citing her father’s Rumble fish, alongside Breathless, Stanley Kubric’s Loita, and John Hughes Sixteen candles amongst her favourite films.

Filmography

coppola-films_orig.jpg

Lick The Star – Short (1998)
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
Lost In Translation (2003)
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Somewhere (2010)
The Bling Ring (2013)
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
The Beguiled (2017)

Director Trademarks

  • In comparison to the epic films of her father Francis’ like The Godfather and Apocalypse now Sofia’s films are intimate and smaller in scale. Instead she chooses to follow characters suspended in moments of transistion.
  • Her films are muted in colour and filmed in natural light creating lonely dreamscapes guided by sound while at the same time despite her critical and commerical sucess she has continually chosen the creative freedom of independent filmmaking over big budgets.
  • Coppola’s films are not driven by plot, but rather themes favourites including lonelyness, teen culture, stilted ambition and burgeoning geminity with her films often featuring female characters facing a turning point
  • Character’s emotion state shown through visuals, while her films are shot with a documentary sensibility and ambient sound aswell as featuring a signature follow shot.
  • Coppola has shot exclusivly on film with the exception of Bling Ring  which to date is her only film to be shot on digital.