Saturday, 26 November 2011

Wuthering Heights – directed by Andrea Arnold

Adapted fearlessly from Emily Bronte’s classic tale of illicit love, Andrea Arnold’s work goes above and beyond the realm of capturing the bleakness of the Yorkshire Moors. Shaky shots of nature’s most cruel abound and onslaught on one of the finer pleasures in life; love. 

From the outset, it becomes clear that this is an adaptation of extremes, the wildness, animalistic and unrestrained instincts of the young Cathy and Heathcliff are almost uncomfortable in places while remaining touching and true to the feral young daughter of Earnshaw and rescued foundling Heathcliff’s original story.

Beware those who cannot cope with close shots of death of the small furry kind as puppies are left hanging, animals spines broken by hand and for those a little squeamish, step back from Cathy’s licking of Heathcliff’s wounds after he has been whipped. It is an extraordinary scene that’s power is the illustration of the almost instantaneous and natural bond of the two crossed lovers. As children their growing love and unquestioning urges in the coming of age shows no boundaries of the civilised kind outside the beautifully grey moors and melodramatic climate.

Nature, particularly the weather, dominates this film, the wind and rain envelops you as you sit watching and the passion unfolds mainly through inaction and atmosphere. Beautiful in my opinion but for some might be a hard task to sit through for two hours. 

Alongside the severity and simple shots of nature is the unrestrained sexualisation of Heathcliff’s physical responses to Cathy’s close proximity, often centred around their hair, like animals seeking out pheromones, he buries his head in her scent and she claws at his own, letting it go, freeing him as she does with her collection of bird’s feathers.

Working with this is the harshness of language used that some could say sits clumsily in what most would see as period drama, however it does work in that the shock of the modern words would reflect the kind of language Heathcliff would have been partied to through insults and his own responses of the time. I think it worked although there were definitely some uncomfortable fidgets and a couple of people left in a flurry of coats and bags at the alarm of the word ‘cunt’, it seems ‘nigger’ doesn't hold the same power which leads on to the controversial casting of Heathcliff as a mixed race man.

For me, this made absolute sense as in the novel, his identity is often heavily implied as racially ambiguous and different from those around him, perhaps more traditionally those have seen him as of Romany descent, the foundling for this adaptation from the streets of Liverpool sat fine with the growing influx of slaves and his branding on undressing.

The second half of the film wasn’t as affecting as the story of the two characters’ childhood. The transition from child to man for Heathcliff (James Howson) was fine, silent, brooding passion with an edge of temper and perhaps instability. Cathy, however, in her casting as an adult was lacking in passion and spirit and physically didn’t seem to work. I actually think the two young actors Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer, could have continued in the second half with some subtle change in costume and manner, especially as surrounding characters like Hindley and Nelly remained the same. 

Despite this, her taunting of Heathcliff was infuriating and her eventual demise had impact, again in more scenes of unrestrained and almost taboo responses as Heathcliff kisses her dead body and appears to climax in his grief and unconsummated passion.

Left without his love and declaring his wish she wakes in agony on the other side, Heathcliff’s anger is vent on his newly acquired young wife and ends with his visions of Cathy’s ghost. Of course anyone that knows the book, this is barely half way through the novel as the story almost repeats the illicit love through the next generation showing the spiritual balance is not put in place and the love is borne again to end in tragedy. However, no film seems to go beyond this point.

Andrea Arnold has done a great job, for me the novel was always centred around nature and this was at the forefront of the film, not always pretty but definitely capturing. My only two criticisms are the casting of the adult Cathy (Kaya Scodelario) and the end credit music from (urgh) Mumford and Sons, just seemed a rude interruption to the mystery and atmosphere of the film. 

It is an adaptation for the more traditional Bronte fans but could also pull in new interest, the beauty of this literature is how the stories can fit into a more modern perspective while left firmly in a past of more mystery and accepted cruelty. It remains a timeless tale of impossible and inescapable passion, the consequences of ignoring always being haunted. I loved it.

The Golden Filter: Syndromes

An EP and a short film directed by Kristoffer Borgli...

It is strange where you bump into good music sometimes but this short and beautifully shot film ‘Syndromes’ has sound and music by The Golden Filter, a band I’ve not heard much of before.

New Yorkers, Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman,  are no stranger to the more atmospheric of electronic music, the soundtrack for this film directed by Norwegian Kristoffer Borgli, is mesmerising and perfectly fitting in the story of a young girl with healing powers that seems almost farmed out to perform her ‘gift’ by her own mother and protector.

The results be her literally vomiting her nurturing healing power out on to a metaphoric conveyor belt of production; anyone else see a parallel with the exploitative music industry? This film has many layers of meaning wonderfully captured in a matter of minutes of creativity and is almost certainly shot in a way for personal perspective. If that sounds of interest, do jump on the film short for 11 minutes or so of thought provoking direction plus some rather good music.

The Golden Filter are definitely a band to keep an eye out for if you like something verbosely layered with charmingly haunting melody; on first listen for me they seem to be capturing the spirit of early Ladytron’s brooding moodiness, Goldfrapp’s seduction and even in one track Tears For Fears on the cusp of their claustrophobic madness, all of whom have since rather lost their way (particularly Ladytron who seem to have resorted to raping a melange of ancient beliefs via a shopping spree for lanterns at Ikea in their latest video ‘Mirage').

After a couple of quiet weeks, this band and particularly the film were a pleasant find in my fog of nothing to share bubble pricked rudely by endless predictable ’best of year lists’ to bore your festive baubles off (yes, starts earlier every year) The short film gives the music some depth that may not come across when merely listening to it.  The added profundity, I think, shows the impact of a great music video that so few bands bother to do in this quick ‘convenience music’ digital mentality of late.

The EP really is superb and as usual I’m finding it pretty impossible to choose a must listen so take your pick via this soundcloud stream.  Make sure you also check out this gorgeous remix from Au Palais of The Golden Filter's latest single ' Mother' to be released from the EP on December 5th. Enjoy its soundclouding loveliness below via the beautiful marriage of two relatively new and great electronic and atmospheric bands.

  The Golden Filter - Mother (Au Palais Remix) by TheSoundsOfSweetNothing

Related Links:

The Golden Filter on Facebook
Au Palais on Facebook

Related Post:

Au Palais: Tender Mercy

Monday, 7 November 2011

Misfits: Series 3- Episode 1 (spoilers)

Rush rush to get this review online as episode 2 aired last evening, mostly as I stalled catching up on it due to my concerns over the loss of Nathan at the end of the last series. Lots of ‘Shall or shan’t I?’ and then I caved and was pleasantly surprised.

So Nathan’s super power was ‘luck’ if memory serves me so he’s gone now and will no longer don the icky orange jumpsuit. The old team of offenders were kind of tired and getting to the end of their stories: Lauren was, well Lauren, sharp, crude and funny, always very likeable; Curtis, well slightly dull along with his one time ‘lust interest' ‘Alisha’ in the ‘you can’t touch but quick jump behind this curtain while I do a little finger shuffle and you do the old in and out with a hand’…kind of sums up the lewd humour that went to new levels in this opener with the wise crack (geddit) derrière lines from the new character and aptly named Rudy.

Paling into insignificance along side this witty addition to the ‘asboers’ was Simon and who knows where this one is going; apparently he is now good at jumping and has successfully hooked the pretty one. Personally I preferred him as the nerdy, virginal weirdo to the unconvincing nice guy ‘knight in shining slightly off kilter’ cyber goth outfit.

Despite what looked like could be ‘over kill in concrete urban decay’ this opener did work, mostly down to the newbie Rudy. A face and voice that viewers may recognise from skinhead ‘Woody’ in the ‘This is England’ or perhaps your mum may recognise as a ‘Dingle’ from Emmerdale.

There was a slightly lame link for Rudy to the group having been involved with the ‘cock monster’ Alisha and then been so hurt, he’d tried to kill himself. Perhaps a way to gel the character to the group but to be honest, it didn’t work and actually Rudy’s character from the offset was strong enough not to need the tenuous bridge.

His character seems to hint at some sort of vaguely bi polar super power, which could get interesting. How handy would it be to rid yourself of extreme personality/chemical imbalance disorders or use them to meddle in life’s events? Not absolutely sure really, super power or super hindrance?

The new powers offered by the sudden appearance of the suited mystery man hunting for a specific power are a little vague so far, less obvious choices maybe than marvel character-esque invisibility, time reversal and so on, but they will need some pretty strong storylines to keep up the interest and pace that this opener successfully captured. 

Great opening and looking much more promising than after the weaker finale last Christmas. The biggest disappointment for me? Well, killing off the evil ‘pause people’ girl it has to be, I really liked her and would have happily seen her replace Curtis or Alisha as a murdering then duping new insider to the group. Sadly she is now 6 feet under sharing a grave with the ‘she liked it up the arse’ girl...what an epitaph!

Sharp, well shot with very basic humour…at some point a hint at what the storm is all about may start to surface. For now, I think even the writers probably don’t even know and are winging it while keeping us curious.

Anyway, my droogs, not one for keeping to deadlines here, I’m now going to watch episode 2 a day late and hope last week’s wasn’t merely some weird storm honeymoon of comic moments. If you hear no more, it probably means I thought it went downhill too far into smut and unclever ‘get them out for the lads’ cheap tricks to keep its audience.

Jump here to 4OD  to catch up.