Spotlight On: Wes Anderson

This is Wes Anderson, director of upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel. His instantly recognisable style is intriguing so we’re taking a closer look….Image

So some of his trade marks from IMDB:

Makes obsessive and comedic use of “rostrum camera” insert shots, foregrounding the minutiae of books and other documents.
Has ended all his movies with a slow-motion shot, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited (2007).
Just about the entire soundtrack in all of his movies, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited (2007), is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh.
Likes to shoot with extremely wide-angle anamorphic lenses that exhibit considerable barrel distortion.
Frequently uses a take/double take technique where he will show a character/action, quickly pan to another character/action, then pan back, usually with handheld camera.
Movies often focus around a broken or unorthodox family circle
At least one of his characters is usually a grown man seeking the approval of a parent or parent figure.
Often includes songs by The Rolling Stones on the soundtracks of his films
The titlecards are always in the font: Futura Bold, most commonly in yellow color.
A character giving a complex, lengthy explanation for humor
Unique ways of introducing a large cast of characters
Characters who are heavy on body language
Quirky themes of white middle-class and upper-class issues

Shots of the characters standing still and facing towards the screen with little to no emotion.

 

So that’s his style then.  Now how many of these Wes films can you name?ImageImageImageImageImage?

…And as a director?…

Jeff Goldblum on working with Wes:“I’ve gone to other movies and the director will go, ‘Oh maybe you are wearing this,’ and I’ll go ‘That’s a good idea but how about this? What if I have a hat or a thing?’ With him you don’t do that. You go: ‘What do I get to do in this?’ And he goes: ‘Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, here’s the thing.’ And you go, ok, so, that’s what you sign-up for too. And his ideas are so good. And his taste is so good that you go: ‘Oh, yes please.’”

(From http://rushmoreacademy.com/about/)

See The Grand Budapest Hotel at The Grosvenor cinema from March 7th.

@BaftaScotland Screening: The Place Beyond the Pines

At what point do an awful series of events begin, and how can they brought to an end? Derek Cianfrance toyed with such questions in his previous feature Blue Valentine – the difficult story of two lovers bound to one another for reasons beyond immediate understanding, despite the intense misery their life together entails. His latest film goes beyond the claustrophobic intensity of a dysfunctional relationship to examine the inevitability of fate and of failed attempts at redemption across a tapestry of tragically connected stories. The Place Beyond the Pines is the story of  a carnival daredevil (Ryan Gosling) whose failed bank robbery leads him to a tragic episode with an idealistic cop (Bradley Cooper), changing the fate of both men, and their families forever.

It is Cianfrance’s genius in Beyond the Pines is to explore, through these intricately and intimately woven stories, the unfolding tragedies that, through human weakness, cannot be confined to a discrete moment in time. As the narrative unfolds the audience is constantly drawn to look closer at the chain of events in perspective, towards the minutiae of the circumstantial and seemingly trivial happenings from the beginning of the movie, that suggest that if things had been different the terrible fate of that befalls the two men – and their sons – could have been avoided.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a  nomadic motorcycle daredevil whose work on the carnival circuit brings him into fleeting contact with Romina Gutierrez (Eva Mendes), with whom he has a son, Jason. The new found knowledge of his paternity drives Luke to attempt to provide for all three; first through employment as a mechanic and then through a series of bank robberies inspired by his employer Robin, played ably by Ben Mendelsohn. The bank robberies themselves provide short, spasmodic scenes of intense, dizzying and nauseating action, the speed of helps to portray the fundamental recklessness and impulsiveness of Gosling’s character.

When taken at face value, Gosling’s part in the narrative of Beyond the Pines chimes familiarly with his role in Drive – a mechanic-cum-bank-robber drawn to care for a mother and her child – an it is tempting to make the equation. Yet the character of Glanton is very different to the Meursault-esque character played by Gosling in Drive. Glanton is sociopathic, talkative and highly emotional young man, whose reasons for caring for the welfare of the mother and child are obvious – somewhat the reverse of Gosling’s part as ‘Driver’, despite their obvious similarities.

Bradley Cooper plays Avery Cross, who enters the film during a stand-off with Glanton. Heralded first as a hero, the  idealistic young police officer becomes entangled in the corruption of his fellow officers, only to emerge as someone unrecognisable from his former self, transformed by guilt.

The story then migrates from one generation to the next, focusing on Jason (Dane De Haan), Glanton’s son and the unhappy circumstances which have become his life given what to him are  the unexplained circumstances of his father’s death. This final transition completes the circle as Avery’s wayward son, AJ (Emory Cohen), befriends Jason after arriving

Cianfrance must be credited for managing to hand the plot, like a terrible burden, from character to character through a series of memorable breaks which serve to enrich rather than punctuate the films storyline. In taking pages from the American cinematic playbook – bank jobs, broken homes, car chases, crooked cops and violence – Cianfrance imbues them with an intense realism that accentuates the film’s gritty, somewhat vulgar feel, putting the human suffering that these things cause at the centre of the story, rather than as a peripheral concern.

The emerging director’s penchant for bringing to the surface the regrettable side of human nature can, at times, make   The Place Beyond the Pines uncomfortable to watch, but this is surely a part of its engrossing effect. Trading on themes of catharsis, responsibility and guilt, fate and inevitablity, as well as  masculinity and the role of a father, Cianfrance manages to make a film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. With Ryan Gosling recently announcing an indefinite hiatus from acting it places an imperative on his fans to catch the last glimpse of an actor whose direction is far from certain.

Alan Mahon

The Place Beyond The Pines will be released at the Grosvenor Cinema April 12. For ticket information visit www.grosvenorcinema.co.uk

A Horror Day’s Night – Matt Palmer and ‘All Night Horror Madness’

The Grosvenor Cinema’s ‘All Night Horror Madness’ is a red letter day in the calender of all Glasgow horror fans. Claire Murray caught up with the man behind the madness, Matt Palmer, to get an insight into what its like to organize such an event…

“My day, if you could call it that, for the ‘All Night Horror Madness’ nights  I run actually begins around three months before. By the time the event itself comes around I’ve been working on it for such a long time, gathering a collection of great horrors together, finding a venue and doing the marketing. It is intense. I try to get up at midday and keep calm but being a control freak, that’s not always possible.”

“Thankfully I’ve moved on from cooking food at the nights. In the beginning I decided I would do bacon rolls for people. The day of my first all-nighter I slept in, vastly underestimated how much bacon I would need, spent six hours in the kitchen cooking bacon and was totally spaced out. I had to bring everything down to the cinema, got blind drunk and stunk of bacon, missing the first film,  which was a bit of a disaster all round. The “bacon adventures” as I called them carried on until the third night when I realised it was getting ridiculous and people could bring their own food.”

“All Night Horror Madness sprang from my own personal love of cult films so the night of back to back movies is a social affair. My friends gather at my house and we have a couple of drinks to get the night started and calm my ever increasing nerves. We head down to the cinema about 10pm and meet everyone we know who is coming, then help out making sure everyone has a ticket for the raffle and a drink. My job tends to be part organiser and part host.”

“Just before 11pm, the people who have bought tickets file in. Everyone takes their seats and I do a short intro. Disliking public speaking, I then get a guy I know, Ian Howie, to do a longer talk about the films. His intros are really funny and it lets me sit down and sink into the crowd.”

“I’ve usually spent weeks watching and re-watching horror films to pick out the ones I think will fit best with the night so the experience is not exactly relaxing. There’s a definite feeling of responsibility and you can start looking for faults in the film and worry that those who have paid to come to your night won’t like the choices you have made for them. I try to dismiss this and just enjoy the evening but I often feel a bit like I’m having an out of body experience, especially during Edinburgh nights as I work in the cinema anyway. It’s a pretty intense situation and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening.  I often have the event in Glasgow, a week or two later and I get to really experience it there as the first one is always such a blur.”

“Sitting in the auditorium can be such a nerve wracking experience. I’m a bit of a, well, a cinema purist.  I try really hard to get hold of 35mm prints in order to add a bit more authenticity to the event. However it can be really hard and expensive to do this so we often show two DVDs or BluRay and two prints.  I also feel that when something goes wrong with a reel or the print snaps or something then it is an act of God, whereas digital and DVD feels like my fault. I sit there and hope that no mishaps occur and then worry that my negative feelings will cause something to happen, like I’m sending weird brain signals out. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s not something I can help.”

“Getting a bit older, I’m starting to find it difficult to stay awake the whole night. When I was younger me and my mates would go to all-nighters in Manchester and I could stay up through all the films but I imagine it will get even harder now I have a baby. My son is ten weeks old and it’s hard enough getting sleep in at the best of times. I tend to have quite a few drinks on the night so I’m often a bit drunk too but, I mean, I feel like if I’m putting everyone through the experience then I need to stay up myself.”

“When it all ends my emotions are unbelievably mixed. As the credits on the final film roll in I feel a mix of pleasure, disappointment and emptiness. Pleasure that the night has went to plan and there have been no hitches. Disappointment that it’s all over and I have to wait another few months to do it again and emptiness that something I have spent so long working on has been and gone. There’s also a bit of excitement in there, I get to start planning the next one.”

 

Claire Murray in conversation with Matt Palmer

The Grosvenor Cinema will be hosting ‘All Night Horror Madness’ on Saturday March 16. For ticket booking and other information visit grosvenorcinema.co.uk or call 0845 166 6002.