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Empty Passion, by Darrell Tuffs

10 Nov

What’s the one thing that could make or a break a bleak romantic drama focused on the unstoppable love of two despairing individuals? The answer… chemistry. Unfortunately for Gabe Kliger’s European art/indie feature Porto (2017), it had none.

It’s not that Porto is a bad film necessarily, indeed, I enjoy parts of its filmmaking very much. An inventive and considerate camera does its best to dissect the strangely incoherent and dreamscape world of the film. I even caught sight of a few early Truffaut/Godard style camera moves, shots that seemed to reminisce the film’s own appreciation for new wave works such as Jules and Jim (1962) or A Woman Is a Woman (1961). Technically, the film stands on its own, with just enough cinematic beauty and creativity to run its course. The problem is this… emotionally, Porto seemed to think I was way more invested in its character’s and narrative than I actually was.


Small Delights, by Darrell Tuffs

24 Jul

There’s a lot to love in Dustin Guy Defa’s 2017 drama, Person to Person. Immediately apparent becomes the film’s love for its space, its atmosphere, its characters. Like the very best of New York based filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Spike Lee, Defa sets a sophisticated-yet-somewhat-grimy filmic tone of concrete urbanism; a vibrant cinematic space cramped full of bustle and kinetic movement, all captured within considered framing and a vintage celluloid aesthetic, one keenly intent on reflective observation.


It Stings! by Darrell Tuffs

17 Jun

Before watching Tsunambee, the latest directorial effort by Milko Davis, I really wanted to enjoy it; above all, I was looking for the film not to take itself too seriously, hoping for a ridiculous but fun journey through the pleasures of cheaply made B-movie horror. During isolated moments, the film came so close to providing this; its set-up sounds like a terrifyingly camp dream I once had, and its advertising material feels appropriately exaggerated for such an extravagantly high-concept narrative. Yet the film, for the most part, fails to deliver on these promises, instead resorting to exposition dialogue in place of visual energy, and a half-baked faith narrative so awkwardly shoved-in that it almost becomes insulting.


The Passion of Joan of Arc

30 Jul

22. The Passion of Joan of Arc

3 Jul

The Passion of Joan of Arc

dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc is perhaps the most modern film ever made. This statement is especially significant when understanding that the film itself is very much a product of the silent era. Dreyer’s camera, style, and profound sense of composition are crammed with the brand of legendary cinematic innovation connected so closely to the pre-sound silent era, yet his overall execution of the film feels very much like a yet to be understood tone from the future; a disconnected temporal aesthetic haunts the film’s very frames, constructing an almost alien space that is neither connected to the past nor the present. Dreyer’s spectatorial vantage point on the world of the film feels somehow inhuman; we witness both Joan and her accusers from behind a glorified visual prospective, one in which the very nature of human emotion is presented within its purest form. Joan is often viewed from a high angled close-up, her heart-breaking face filling the screen simultaneously with passion and hope, yet terror and fear. Dreyer’s frustrated camera movements allow Joan’s space to feel broken and dangerous, yet his closeness to her physical presence represents the warmth and mercy of her heart. The style of the piece elevates human brokenness past the point of mere presentation, reflecting upon a world normalised by shame and persecution, while at the same time offering a glimpse of forgiveness and compassion via a passionate maintaining of faith in the face of persecution. The film is an extraordinary work of art, operating profoundly on both an artistic and spiritual level, while at the same time offering a mystical sense of personality, as though the film itself was born from outside the human experience, looking in with both shame and sadness, yet coming out with nothing but praise and wholehearted grace.     

Eight Little Indians, by Darrell Tuffs

27 Dec

hateful eight samuel l jackson

While viewing Tarantino’s eagerly awaited 8th feature film, The Hateful Eight, two conflicting opinions were passionately arguing within my brain. The first was telling me, “This film is absolutely beautiful; a real cinematic treat!” Indeed, as one might expect from Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is a gorgeously crisp film. Shot on celluloid, and set within a blizzard-ridden Wyoming, the film presents the typical mountain range landscapes associated with classics of the Western genre, yet the film is able to subvert these geographical tropes somewhat by flattening and smoothing out the frame of the film with deep glistening snow. To effect, this flattening of the landscape highlights the individual features of the characters within the film, allowing them as personalities to stand out from the scope of their environment. As a cinematic technique, this creates wonderfully dramatic images of faces, figures, costumes and human expressions. The film is able to maintain this grand scope of beauty throughout, making great use of its grainy-yet-classic filmic style.