Saturday, 15 November 2014


When designer Saul Bass, the maker of wonderful title sequences, decided to direct a feature film it was always going to be visually interesting. Phase IV is a slow burn with an inherent Nature (or at least Super Nature) v Us theme. intelligent Bugs From Outer Space would have been an overly bombastic title for this film's brand of insectoid existentialism. Saul Bass' visual flair is evident in this thoughtful Science Fiction tale and it has hints of Roeg in it's styling. As debuts go it is flawed yet terrific and would go nicely on a double bill with the Andromeda Strain: unfortunately it was Bass' only full length feature and one wonders what he could have gone on to achieve. One things for sure, any future movies would have been good looking.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

INTERSTELLAR or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the complexity

Is there anyone out there? Or more apposite: is there anywhere out there? Just one of many questions Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar asks. Any fan of Nolan’s, as I am, would know from Memento, The Prestige and Inception that Nolan’s conceptual faculties are perhaps the best in the mainstream business. But  along with his technical ability he gets results out of actors that help the audience to engage.

What most of us wondered was if Interstellar was going to be his Prometheus or his Close Encounters. It’s neither. It’s a movie that leaves your brain rattling away long after the end credits.

It’s a movie that asks questions about our (humanity’s) place in the universe. Explores the power of love and tries to realign perceptions of time: so far so highbrow. We make comparisons of films: that’s just what we do, and Interstellar‘s nearest touchstones are 2001: a space Odyssey and perhaps Solaris.

When drawing analogies with Kubrick’s epic it is an easy parallel: the gates of perception and spacecraft spinning against a vast backdrop (along with some of Kubrick’s pretension). The scenes of spacecraft and planets are beautifully captured and this counterpoints the personal drama of the story.

Where 2001 had HAL Interstellar has TARS, a robot of humour and initiative. In fact TARS starts of as an unwieldy clunky relic but his design is unlike any robot character I’ve seen at the cinema and his bizarre, almost Analogue design puts him (yes him, not it) in the pantheon of great Artificial intelligence.

It touches on the Spielberg school of emoting at times but what it does do is provide a three hour cinema experience that is sometimes profound, often thrilling and intermittently baffling, but in this world of junk movies it is a meal that is full of diverse flavour and none overpowers the other. Tuck in.