20 February 2011

A New Venture

The King is dead. Long live the king.

Film for the Soul may be gone but a new venture awaits.

I hope to see all of you that made Film for the Soul such a wonderful place to be at my new blog, By Kubrick's Beard, some time soon.

Thank you

24 August 2010

The End. Bye Bye Film for the Soul

Let's face it, this happened months ago.

I've tried, I've failed. Film for the Soul is no more, I can't bring myself to work on the blog I loved so much.

Counting Down the Zeroes, probably, takes most the blame. The project was ambitious, a runaway success and wide-spread throughout the film blog community however, what I didn't relish though was the amount of editing, arranging, designing and managing involved, the time I spent on contributors articles meant I no longer had any input in my own blog.

Film for the Soul ceased to be my baby.

I'm still damn proud of that project though, and until a couple of months back, I still believed that I could complete it. After some deep soul searching, I realised I was dreading going back to it and my, futile, attempts to start blogging again were half-arsed to say the least, it just wasn't my blog anymore. Maybe it was meant to be this way.

I will miss this place terribly, I made great friends here; you know who you are out there and I just want to say thank you, thank you so much for what you've meant to me. What you amazing people didn't know was that Film for the Soul helped me through a really black moment in my life. I started the blog back in March 2008 when I was unemployed, without hope and admist a deep depression that had taken hold of me for the past 18 months.

Film for the Soul was part of my recovery; a major part in fact, to just have the facility to feel engaged, creative and a part of something I cared about made the world of difference to me. I never expected it to be anything other than a place to write stuff down but, and I'm sure all fellow bloggers will understand this, it means so, so much more than that. Film for the Soul boosted my confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and gave me a purpose, whatever the reasons that led me to those awful dark days Film for the Soul was the torch, lighting the way to a better way of looking at the world.

Meeting like minded people, discovering so much more to the world of cinema and writing. That's all it took. This is what Film for the Soul and you have meant to me, you have no idea what you've done for me. My life is my own again.

I will miss you all. I hope; I'm pretty sure, I will return one day but not here. Never here. This is it my friends. Adios. And thanks for all the fish.

Your friend
Ric Burke (aka) Ibetolis

1 June 2010

Che Part 2: Guerilla - Review

(Steven Soderbergh, 2008)

It seems fitting that my first review, back in the saddle as it were, happens to be the concluding part to my last review on this blog. Che Part 1 - The Argentine, left me alienated and frustrated and in my own words:

‘(whilst) there is so much to admire here; the depth of information about the revolution, the film maker's determination, stunning cinematography and Soderbergh's absolute, resolute, stubbornness to pander and his anti-audience stance. It takes a certain arrogance and belief to make a film like this, purposely taking your audience somewhere new, even if the results are as patchy, it should still be applauded. Despite my problems with Che: Part One, I look forward to the concluding part, mostly in hope that it will clear up the agonising and frustrating estrangement I felt with the first chapter.’

This seems like the perfect point to reflect on that review and to take stock on how two fragments of a whole can affect the individual when watched in separate chapters. Due to that general feeling 'The Argentine' left me rather empty and unwilling to conclude the epic, but finally I got around to the second part, if a good six months later, and it’s more to my pity that I waited for so long, as Part Two: Guerilla, turned out to be one of the most satisfying films of the year. I only wish that I had watched the films back to back, as I'm convinced that this review would have been completely different.

Whereas 'The Argentine' covers the makings of ‘the man, the myth’ aspect, the origins of his ideology and the beginnings of the revolution, Guerilla takes on the subsequent fame, notoriety and belief that surround the icon some seven years later, his dogmatic turns as a politician in Cuba, his swift resignation and fatefully his calling back in the wilderness of guerrilla warfare. Whereas one would expect the tone to be darker than the first part, to which it is by some degree, the subsequent pace at which this happens wears down the viewer and finally brings the viewer to Che, to feel his pain, to feel the claustrophobia, the relentless pain in his chest, it’s as if Soderbergh has held us at length for so long for us only to run into his arms when invited. Which, admittedly, happens only once and boy, is it ever fleeting.

So, it’s to Bolivia, where Che meets his fate, that the second film ultimately turns to and Che’s infinite patience, methodical approach and strategist skills are brought to breaking point. With no backing from the Bolivian communists, little food, bewildered peasants and a relentless hopelessness invading the entire film, Che continues regardless, stoic and resolute to the end. Del Toro is masterful here, his Che becomes more man than myth before the film finishes and despite bedraggled, losing his composure, injured and defeated he’s still able to hold the icon aloft, feeding us the legend without giving anything away.

It’s in the film making also that this resolute trope shines through, throughout 'The Argentine' we moved between dual narratives which grounded the man and his story, Guerilla pointedly refuses this method by throwing us deep into a losing battle, dragging us through the mud as it were. We sit around the fire with Che and his men, waiting for back-up, talking through plans, going through mind numbing repetitive training schedules, knowing the inevitable is around the corner. Those luscious greens and deep reds of the first film make way for shades of grey, murky colours seep into too each other to give a palate of drudge. The camera throws us into the heart of this drudgery with handheld shots and the score by Alberto Igelesias, becomes bleaker, less coherent and those orchestral flourishes from the first part are no more.

Strikingly individual to the very end, Soderbergh has fashioned a beautiful looking take on the bio-pic; four and a half hours is a damn long time to spend with any one man without knowing him that much, yet I believe Soderbergh just about gives us enough to make it worth while. A real slow burner, a patient set up with little resolution which makes the whole enterprise uncompromising and unique; there's no tub-thumping, polemic dogma or Hollywood navel gazing here. Che still remains mysterious, unobtainable and alien even at the film's end, Soderbergh has dared make a bio-pic without the baggage and, once again, the man should be applauded.

11 May 2010

Now, That's How You Open a Movie #13

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

Fresh from having their heads ceremoniously shaved, another 'conditioning' ritual awaits the fresh 'marine grunts', in the guise of a verbal tirade, at once so vile yet magnificent, lifted out of the highly imaginative book of obscenities and put downs, in the shape of the steely framed, mad eyed drill Sergent, Hartman.

As one eye-rolling nasty line follows another, Kubrick neatly shoves the psychological and physical re-shaping of the young men down our throat; nothing exists but the Marine Corp, nothing but it's ideals, it's methods and it's beliefs.

In the centre of it all is the performance from Lee Ermey (Hartman), the former drill Sergent commands the whole scene, his presence is both terrifying and electric, you truly believe he would die for his 'beloved' Marine Corp. without a moments pause.

Enjoy the profanity.

Why not check out the Opening Scene series? Go on, you know you want to.

4 May 2010

The Other 10 : 2009

As I've been out of the blogsphere for some months I thought I would get back in the saddle by listing this years alternative top 10; to those films that I finally got around to watching in the year 2009, as last years was such a joy to put together.

Film for the Soul was borne out of frustration in March 2008, mostly at myself for never taking the time and care to watch the films I had always meant to see but found excuses to avoid them and to learn more about a subject I claimed to love. With that simple mission statement I've been subjected and encountered a world of film I never knew was so rich and vibrant, so strikingly brilliant and intense.

What follows may gob-smack some; as in 'What? You mean he's only got around to watching that!' but enthrall others, hopefully leading to some of you finally getting around to watching those films 'you've always meant to watch'.

So, in no particular order...

The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)

Bogdanovich vision of a 1950's small Texan town, swallowed up by the world beyond and littered with lonely souls, the lost, the disaffected and dreams unfulfilled, plays out like the last dance waiting for the music to fade out. Lugubrious, haunting and mesmerising.
The General (Clyde Bruckman/Buster Keaton, 1926)

I can say I've finally met 'stone-face' and I think it's love. Thrown into a world of chaos, anarchy and death defying stunts, Buster remains passive, calm and collected throughout; a genius of understatement, when all around him during the silent era went bigger, Keaton's sombre look of ambivalence sleighs me every time.
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

Nothing prepared me for the surreal mastery of the ballet scene itself, without doubt a masterpiece and another film of brilliance from Powell & Pressburger.
Bande A' Part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)

A man so ahead of the curve he invented it; cinematically clever, dripping in pop culture references, sardonic and identifiably Godard.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Simply beyond mere cinema to transcend the medium and climb into your brain, hatch then assault you with a world so bombastic in vision and sound, in ideas and imagination, in scope and refinement, that it will leave you dumb-founded, jaw agap, staring at the blank screen long after the credits have rolled.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls, 1948)

So achingly beautiful, subtle and unravels at such a slight pace, that the last 30 minutes are spent in a misty eyed glaze. "If only you could've recognized what was always yours, could've found what was never lost". Stefan Brand, you bastard.
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

Ozu's portrait of familial relations is so agonisingly human, so subtle and complete, one wonders how a film over 55 years old and made in Japan transcends time and culture with such ease and verve. Beautiful. So, so beautiful.
Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

Eerie, off-kilter, disturbing and marked by a series of silences so profound, Chabrol's intense thriller points to something far deeper than 'a killer on the loose' narrative will have you believe. Strangely moving.
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

At times both vile and magnificent, beautiful and ugly, John Wayne saunters with a rage, a hatred so deep, so intense it burns all those around him, whilst John Ford paints a beautiful canvas for him to hate in. Complex, beguiling and magnificent.
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

Full of snappy one-liners, oozing in the kind of deep noir cool that filters through the best of the genre and with Mitchem in the kind of form where you don't know whether to hug him or to hit him, Out of the Past is the sort of film you should watch whenever you're despondent about movies. Sheer class.

27 April 2010

Counting Down The Zeroes..in limbo?

Well it's been awhile hasn't it?

It's was rather rude of me, to say the least, to up and leave whilst in the middle of the wonderful Counting Down the Zeroes project. I made valiant attempts to keep it afloat but life, you know, sometimes gets in the way.

It's been a turbulent but amazing 7 months away from this world; of blogging, of online camaraderie, the exchanging of wonderful ideas, news, reviews and gossip about a subject we all care deeply about, but it was a break I desperately needed and I hope I haven't lost any of the good friends I made of the past two years since I began Film for the Soul.

Back to the matter in hand. Counting Down the Zeroes was, to put it mildly, a slog. What I thought would be a mild distraction, a titillating project, turned into a behemoth, much larger and more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. The enthusiasm, sacrifice, hard work, dedication and ambition that every contributor put into the project blew me away, I could never imagine that what started out as a chat between myself and another blogger (since you ask, Tony Dayoub from the essential Cinema Viewfinder) could become anything other than a silly idea which would attract half a dozen friends at the best. Over a 100 different writers and 150 plus posts later we still weren't through 2004! Those stats are impossible to ignore and believe me, I don't plan on ignoring them any longer.

I made some promises to a few people around October that I intend to keep, one to Mr Sam Juliano of Wonders in the Dark fame, who has never given up on me in all the time away, thank you for that Sam. Also to Rick Olson (Coosa Creek Cinema) and Chuck Williamson (Out 1) who's articles I have sat on since I fled, sorry fellas, I still have the said pieces and, with your permission, I would still love to post them to wrap up year 2004.

So that's where we are. The question remains, where do we go now? 2005 is the obvious answer but all I want to know is, are you with me?

25 April 2010

Rumours of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

It feels good to be back.
It's been too long.
What have I missed?

More later. Explanations. Apologies. But most importantly, film goodness and lots of it.