Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Fade Out

OK, firsty thanks for encouraging comments and suggestions. I've made a list of them all, and as soon as Xmas is over I'll start keeping an eye out.

Last night, the parents went out, so in honest tradition I put an 18 on (it's a running joke between me and my sister now; it's happened three or four times at least. I know, I'm corrupting the young, so kill least ONE of us is now 18...)

I decided three things. Firstly, you've got to watch a LOT of gangster movies to truly get them. I was pausing every few minutes to begin with to decode the lingo for my sis, who's not such a veteran. Something about the genre invites a barrage of street slang and racial abuse, most of which is vital to ones understanding of the film. Miss the meaning of the word "ice" or "snow", and you'll be in trouble when you have to work the plot out (by the by, "ice" generally means diamonds, and I've only ever heard "snow" as a drug reference. So now you know...)

Secondly, if I'd remembered The Departed had so much swearing and so much violence, I would have picked something more harmless. Like Clockwork Orange *sarcasm*. Honestly, though. I'm happy to stretch the rules to get my sister through a good film, but not traumatise her for life.

Thirdly, and most importantly. Doesn't it do its violence well. Film can do everything in any way its life. Violence runs the whole spectrum from The Matrix' victimless cool, via the sticky but good fun agony of Reservoir Dogs to the borderline-unwatcheable Irreversable.

All variations, but The Departed gets it right. It treads the perfect line between the entertainment value and the preaching of violent media. Let me explain.

Movie violence has to decide what it wants to do. Primarily, do you want to entertain, entertain and shock, or just shock. James Bond is a good example of the former - Irreversable the latter. Saw falls in the middle - it wants to disgust us, but wants us to enjoy being disgusted (think rollercoaster, and the fun of being scared witless) Pure shock runs the risk of people leaving the cinema and trying to get your movie banned; but there is a streak of irresponsibility in merely entertaining thrillers which present gunplay as exciting and without consequence.

The Departed strikes the perfect balance, and highlights the contradiction perfectly - because real violence is as entertaining as it is shocking. Contentious statement? People box, wrestle, street-scuffle, and take enjoyment in doing so. It sucks if you're being attacked (that's the shock yuck factor), but what does the attacker have to gain from it? OK, money you say, but don't deny that people enjoy hurting others. Especially in this context, among criminals and an assortment of scum.

As such, The Departed is exciting, very at times, just as it should be. The constant rock soundtrack helps not a little in getting you in the mood for some viceral bloodletting. At the same time, the speed with which an innocent scene turns around, the unflinching realism and unspairing detail rightly appal you. You do enjoy it - but not too much. I want to rewatch Goodfellas now and see whether it works as well there.

I suppose, to an extent, Mr Blonde has the same contradiction. But despite the number of people who switched it off, threw up, fainted, walked out or wrote letters to the paper, I still believe his moment of glory is glamorised more than demonised - at least within the film itself. I've a good essay about this waiting to come out...

And now, a special treat. I don't usually bother giving music away - it's not mine to give, and anyway, what I like others won't necessarily. It's also often hard to get excited about music from a film you haven't seen unless it's staggeringly beautiful.

Well, this is my definition of staggering, and this tune applies twice - to fans of both Michael Collins and Heat.

So here it is

This is Elliot Goldenthal's playout track for Michael Collins, a biopic of an Irish freedom fighter/terrorist and a film I thought I would loathe.

A little background - the English are ruling Ireland in 1916, as they have been since 1066 or so. Our heroes think Ireland should govern itself. They're not the first - various factions within Ireland have been attempting romantic but doomed open rebellions for years. But Michael Collins comes to promenance by kickstarting a insanely successful style of brutal guirella warfare instead, assasinating key figures collaborating with the British and keeping his own identity a secret.

I'm not sure why it moved me more than any other period drama of its ilk. Perhaps it's because they were shooting on genuine locations, and all ones I'd visited, that I felt an intensely personal connection to it (particularly the opening scenes of the Easter Rising; I've visited That post office, and That jail, and several of Those cells, not to mention Dublin Castle itself). Perhaps it was a cut above every other "freeeeeeeeedom!" movie ever made. And maybe it was just because the music was so darn good.

Good music lifts bad films, and can make anything enjoyable. The score is gorgeous most of the way, but then at the end, as the last shot fades, just lifts itself out of the sphere by playing something which perfectly accompanies that sense of numbed silence which certain films hit you with.

Films like Heat. Heat is supposed to be a masterpiece - perhaps it is, I need to see it again. But I felt I was missing something most of the way through. In fact, it was ten minutes from the end until I really got into it

And again, the music obliged by cradling my sense of shock in a lovely piece by Moby

What's the connection? Well, "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" was not the first choice for the playout in Heat. This chap called Elliot Goldenthal wrote something for it as well, the same Elliot Goldenthal who later wrote for Michael Collins, with a track too good to waste up his sleeve. He removed the electrics and replaced them with a more Irish fiddle sound, and created (IMO) a masterpiece.

The thing I can't get over is how similar it is in feel to "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters", both in the way it is used and the sound of the music itself. Michael Mann certainly knew what he wanted with this one, rejecting one great piece for another very similar.

Anyway, here it is if you want a listen - for lovers of Heat, lovers of Michael Collins and lovers of great movie music. Perhaps you won't enjoy it so much out of context. I dunno. But this is my standard for a great movie tune.

PS - isn't Fadeout a great movie title waiting to happen? Perhaps it already has?

PPS - by now, I'm sure you know I'm an incurable Reservoir Junkie - my cold-turkey lent was a big struggle, and every now and then I just get the itch. The bug. Symptoms include spending long ours on Res Dogs fic Livejournals without reading any fic, or slash Livejournals while ignoring the slash, talking about nothing else, thinking about nothing else, blogging about nothing else and staying up far, far too late at night trying to find like-minded addicts on the web. Now you could say, "JUST WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE" or, if you're feeling really crafty, quote my beloved Oscar Wilde and tell me "the only way to rid oneself of a temptation is to yield to it". But there's a small problem...I love and listen to the soundtrack pretty frequently. When I get to
Stuck in the Middle with You, I normally smile. Sometimes I shiver, and today I had to skip it entirely. I've only ever watched the movie on "smile days"; I can't imagine getting to the end on a day when I can't even sit through the music. Such is life.


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