cinema articles

One of the most serious problems with works addressing films about the Vietnam War is that, to some degree, they will always participate in the reduction of Vietnam the country to Vietnam the war. Where Vietnam is spoken of, it is always in the context of America, as half of an uneasy but seemingly indissoluble historical couple. To reduce Vietnam to the war between that country and America (a war that is significantly referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam), or to any war for that matter, is obviously problematic. Nevertheless, films about war have a unique ability to reveal important historical and cultural aspects of a people as a result of the necessary intersections
of nationalism, art, and history that they contain. Because Vietnam has endured many wars throughout its long history, not the least of which was the American conflict, studying Vietnamese films that treat issues of war might be seen as instructive. […]

When the average American thinks of films about the Vietnam War they no doubt recall canonized classics such as The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978), Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987), and Platoon (Stone, 1986). However, the recognized corpus of American films about the conflict fails to offer a complete and balanced picture of the war, even in the rare instances where these films feature Vietnamese characters. While American fiction films about the war have been duly criticized in recent years for their often blatantly stereotypical or derogatory treatment of the Vietnamese, such criticism does not adequately redress the striking absence of Vietnamese subjectivity in these films. […]

While war as loss is one of the major tropes of American films about the Vietnam War, loss in [Vietnamese war films] is figured on a more material level. It is also significant that these films figure loss through strong women characters, the likes of which are almost completely absent in the canonized American films about the war. Women, as survivors, become repositories for national memory and mourning. The focus in these films on home and loss is particularly relevant to the Vietnamese cinematic style, which often privileges the poetic in order to express a sense of mourning and humanity. […]

At the 1988 premiere of the Vietnam Film Project, director Dinh Quang responded to a question about the fundamental differences between Vietnamese and American films concerning the war by saying, “We’ve lived through 30 years of war, so we don’t have to relive it on the screen. Our films show the impact of the war on people’s lives and thinking. As for entertainment, we lost many, many people in the war. To use that for entertainment would be unworthy.” Dinh Quang’s comment speaks to one of the central aspects of Vietnamese filmmaking, namely an intense focus on humanity. […] In their choices of characters, stories, and settings, Vietnamese films always stress the relationships between people (families, villages, etc) because these relationships are seen as the threads from which the country is woven.

—  Toward a New Canon: The Vietnam Conflict through Vietnamese Lenses by Laurel Westup.

“Sharon Tate emerges as the film’s most sympathetic character, who takes an overdose of sleeping pills when breast cancer threatens to rob her of her only means of livelihood. William Daniels’ photographic caress of her faultless face and enormous absorbent eyes is stunning.”
–The Hollywood Reporter, 1967
‘The Salesman’ Director Asghar Farhadi Won’t Attend Oscars, Citing Muslim Ban
Following President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, Irranian director Asghar Farhadi has decided not to try to attend the Oscars.
By Anne Thompson

On Sunday, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won an Oscar in 2012 for “A Separation” and whose second Oscar-nominated film “The Salesman” is playing well to arthouse moviegoers, told the The New York Times that he has cancelled his plans to attend the Oscars ceremony February 26. He cited President Donald Trump’s 90-day visa ban for citizens from seven Muslim countries including Iran; the order also imposed a 120-day blockage for Muslim refugees, with an indefinite ban on all refugees from Syria.

Farhadi was planning to attend the Academy Awards with his cinematographer, but Friday’s executive order offered “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip … I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.”

Top 5 Beautifully Tragic Independent Movies

Disclaimer: I’m not a film critic, I’m a photographer who gets excited about pretty, emotional things. 

By the time I was 16 years old, I had become obsessed with drama, independent and art-based movies. This was to the extent that I could barely fathom the fact that - on my first day of film studies class - our teacher informed us that our lessons would largely encompass generic blockbuster titles.

‘But there’s so little to these films…’, thought the younger, less knowledgable me. 'What could possibly be of interest about easily interpretable movies that follow cliche, overused narrative tropes, structures and visual stylings?’

Eventually I learnt the error of my thinking, and how dense filmic scrutiny could extend, even in the most conventional of titles. However, my love for movies that differ a little from the norm never really ceased. If its obscure, super dramatic/romantic, bizarre, confusing and/or beautifully shot I’ll probably be convinced by the end that it’s changed my life somehow. Yes, it’s relatively pretentious of me - at least I’m honest about it.

Since my departure from university, I’ve found myself with a little evening time to watch movies again. Subsequently, I’ve proceeded with my incessant hunt, in which there is no final target, to find films that are worthy of my 'list’. This is a catalogue of cinema that has moved me via nothing less than pure, superlative artistry. To celebrate this continuation, I have decided to share a section of my list so far with you. Whether a positive experience or not, these flicks are sure to blow your mind.


'LOVE’ (2011)

If you’ve heard of a wonderfully talented American musician named Tom Delonge (that dude who played in blink-182 and somehow managed to make bad singing sound great), you might also be familiar with the numerous art projects completed under the alias and associated iconography of his band, Angels & Airwaves. Delonge has crafted a wealth of different media under Angels & Airwaves, but no other manages to compare to the 2011 LOVE feature length movie. Directed by William Eubank and produced by Delonge, LOVE is a truly gripping movie that aims to explore the unconditional human need for contact, connection and companionship.

At the very end of a long space exploration mission, astronaut Lee Miller becomes the last human in existence as an unexplained apocalyptic incident sweeps across the world. This event is insinuated only by Miller’s discontinued contact with earth. LOVE possesses a pace that is binary in nature; utilising calm, suddenly sporadic and inconsistent shots to expertly depict Miller’s descent into madness. These skilfully crafted scenes are successful in simulating feelings of irritability and hysteria within its viewers - perfectly epitomising the human need for raw emotion that LOVE strives to explore and present. In turn, we are guided towards the films resolution: Love is the answer; the reason for our very existence. To truly feel gratitude for those you have in your life, you need to experience LOVE.


Why do we struggle to breathe a more righteous breath, when we all end up in the same place?’


'Submarine’ (2010)

This is a movie which is set in a town called Swansea, south-west Wales. What’s kind of wonderfully coincidental to me is that five years after seeing this movie, I am now dating a girl who’s lived in Swansea her whole life (200 miles away from my current location), and roamed some of the locations in the movie during its production. I also met a guy back in university who was actually in the movie as an extra! Kind of strange… anyways.  

As a slightly bleak coming of age comedy about a lovelorn boy named Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), Submarine manages to adhere to, and subvert the conventions of the genre simultaneously. As Oliver tries to work out who he really is, he makes attempts to save his parents marriage and develop his relationship with his equally strange and somewhat pyromanic girlfriend, Jordana (Yasmin Paige). His naivety often results in ill-informed decisions and hilarious results.

I loved the striking performances delivered by the cast of the film; strong portrayals of refreshingly authentic character types. Additionally, the dry humour that remains consistent alongside more serious themes keeps the storyline concurrently sincere, yet humorous.

However, what I found most imposing about Submarine was its unconventional cinematography, visual triggers and narrative structure.

The camera work by Eric Wilson has an idiosyncratic, stylised dynamic; beautiful and often erratic. Alongside the choppy and quirky editing, this helps contribute towards the comedic undertones of the movie whilst remaining superficially alluring. The grain from the use of film cameras, and the use of only natural and existing artificial light, also contributes to Submarine’s 80’s era nostalgia.

Basically… it’s dope.


'You’re the only person that I would allow to be shrunken down to a microscopic size and swim inside me in a tiny submersible machine. We have lost our virginity but it wasn’t like losing anything. You’re too good for me, you’re too good for anyone.’


'The Tree of Life’ (2011)

This one is going to have you Googling explanations before the movie has barely begun. Its a CONFUSING film, but an emotional and gorgeously shot one at that. The cinematography is saintly and, as a photographer, I may have wept at little at this movie’s sheer beauty.

The film follows Jack (Sean Penn), the eldest son of a family as he reflects on his childhood in 1950’s suburban America: his relationship with his parents (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain) his experiences and the premature death of his brother.. however..

The way the movie has been moulded comes across as more of a lengthy video-based art-installation piece, rather than a feature film. The manner and pace in which the films develops, projects an inarticulate dream-like quality; an exploration of themes, ideas and visuals with no real events to drive any gripping or discernible narrative.

It’s damn complex - at times appearing complicated simply for the sake of being complicated. Some might call it art, some might call it pretentious - I call it poignant and moving.

The Tree of Life is a fantastic movie, demonstrating Terrence Malick’s auteurist style.


'Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.’


'Never Let Me Go’ (2010)

Much like the central theme of this movie, this is one that I will never let go of (or forget). Based upon Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, NLMG follows its protagonists Cathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley). The trio are pupils at a school of children, all of whom were born and raised to be healthy, donate their vital organs and die young. Yeah.. it’s pretty grim. But hold up.. it gets additionally tragic.

A love triangle forms amongst the three and throughout the movies three act structure (spanning about a decade… I think) it becomes evident that Cathy and Tommy are meant to be. Deep down they knew this all along, yet by the time they act, they’re days from beginning their donations.

There is nothing more tragic than true love that cannot be allowed to exist. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it. Seriously, though… watch this movie. It’ll cut you up but you’ll know what it is to feel true gratitude and appreciation to be a free soul.


‘We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.’


'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)

So on account of its cult status - and being that this is Tumblr - my number one is probably one that you’re already familiar with. For those unfamiliar, however, I will enlighten you.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of two seemingly incompatible people, Joel and Clementine (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) and the deterioration of their relationship. The films director Michel Gondry, presents a tender, endearing and intimate companionship that becomes reduced to a jealous, frustrated and dispassionate mess.

Sounds pretty conventional so far, right? Well, conventional it ain’t.

Overwhelmed and exasperated, Joel discovers Clementine has visited Lacuna Inc, a company which provides a form of brain damage; allowing her to forget she had ever met Joel. Devastated upon realising this, Joel has the same treatment performed upon himself. Joel’s erasure is what guides the films narrative.

Beginning in the present day as Joel starts his treatment, Eternal Sunshine traces back through the cherished memories of him and Clementine as they are removed one by one. However, as the procedure is occurring, Joel realises that he can’t bare the thought of losing Clementine for good; even if only as a memory. From the depths of his unconsciousness, Joel tries desperately to hold on to this paradigm of his psyche.

The reason I adore this film so much is the muddled narrative structure, the obsessively detailed mise-en-scene and visual triggers. This is to the extent that new little details and easter eggs seem to reveal themselves with every viewing. Additionally, the conclusions, lessons and themes of Eternal Sunshine are most certainly transferable to real life.

Although the movie appears as somewhat incoherent at times, Gondry somehow manages to find a perfect harmony within the films delivery; superlatively demonstrating the importance of love and memory, irrespective of life’s eventual outcome.

It’s kind of difficult to express through words the impact that this movie has had on me, and the cinematic quality I think it possesses. It’s gorgeously shot, magnificently executed and hard-hitting. The soundtrack by Jon Brion is also expedient and gets you RIGHT in the feelings. It’s one of those films that makes you feel as though a deep, innermost element of your being has been changed somehow. It did with me, at least. It’s breathtaking.


'What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she’s a stranger.’


Helga Leeb: Your wife is having a baby. She said she would give up her career tomorrow…

Roman Polanski: “Sharon is serious about that. You can believe her when she tells you that. If she has to make a choice between being an actress or having a happy family life she would choose a happy family life!”

(From an interview with Roman Polanski which was done around mid-1969 in London, for a German publication. The interview was published after Sharon Tate’s death)


Most anticipated movies of 2015
Next year should be interesting!
Here are some US release dates to prepare your calendar.

Taken 3
Black Hat
The Phoenix Project

Jupiter Ascending
Fifty Shades of Grey

In the Heart of the See


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Mad Max Fury Road

Jurassic World
Insidious: Chapter 3

Terminator Genisys
Magic Mike XXL
Minions the movie
Point Break

The Fantastic Four
Sinister 2
Hitman: Agent 47

Maze Runner: the Scorch Trial
Black Mass
Hotel Transylvania 2

Last Witch Hunter

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
The Martian

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
Mission Impossible: V

What are you expecting the most ?
Olivia de Havilland and the Most Notorious Sibling Rivalry in Hollywood
After winning two Oscars, the Gone with the Wind actress decided to leave Los Angeles and decamp to Paris in 1955. What made her walk out? William Stadiem finds out the answer from the golden-age screen goddess herself, as she approaches her 100th birthday.
By William Stadiem

Vanity Fair, May 2016