Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Why Robert Pattinson being cast as Batman is great news

Yesterday, the internet went into meltdown at the news that Robert Pattinson is stepping up to replace Ben Affleck in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. While sensible, rational people were intrigued by the prospect of Pattinson becoming the caped crusader, a vocal minority were furious at the idea of ‘that guy from Twilight’ making of a mockery of the gravelly-voiced billionaire playboy who dons a mask and cape to run around at night fighting clowns and penguins.

Clearly, these people are stuck in 2011, or simply haven’t seen any of Pattinson’s performances in the last seven years. Since the Twilight franchise (a series of films Pattinson himself isn’t a big fan of) came to an end, Pattinson has been blazing a trail across independent cinema. Not only has he worked with some of the most-acclaimed auteurs around (including David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, and Claire Denis), he’s given an outstanding array of diverse and challenging performances in almost every film he’s appeared in this decade.

Good Time

From his reputation-shifting, reptilian work in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis to his intense, off-kilter turn in David Michod’s The Rover, and from a scene-stealing supporting role in James Gray’s The Lost City of Z to his outstanding, Ford On Film-heralded starring performance in The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, Pattinson has become one of the most reliable and interesting leading men of his time. Whether his somewhat-awkward experiences with the Twilight Saga gave him his fearless, experimental taste in roles is unknown, but it seems fair to say he’s relished the chance to give arthouse cinema a boost and build a terrific reputation for himself.

Who knows if Pattinson will make a great Batman or not? Only time will tell, but for those who believe he’s miscast because of his work in Twilight, you’re only showing your own lack of film knowledge. Pause the Endgame rewatch, check out any of his great performances from the last seven years, and see if you don’t get excited at the prospect of his take on the dark knight.

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Vox Lux is a messy, mesmerising portrayal of a pop star’s damaged psyche

Having amassed an impressive list of acting credits by the age of 30 – including working with European heavyweights like Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke – Brady Corbet now seems intent on becoming a world-class filmmaker as well. His first film, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader, may have featured a frustratingly-ambiguous narrative, but it was hard to fault Corbet’s arresting compositions and ambitious storytelling. Nearly three years later, Corbet’s sophomore effort Vox Lux shows even more signs of promise. Bizarre and pretentious it may be, but there’s no denying Vox Lux is a unique, fearless blast of arthouse cinema adrenaline.

vl_01614Vox Lux

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The Future of Ford On Film

Hi readers,

You may have noticed I haven’t updated the site for a few weeks. Recently, I started a new job which takes up most of the free time I previously used watching films and writing blogs. My work may settle down in the future, or I may be able to find some pocket of time to watch and write more, but for the next few months, I’m going to be a lot busier and will likely not have a lot to write about.

That isn’t to say I’m going to end the blog, or say goodbye, or anything drastic like that. I’m just going to be slowing down the amount of content I write for the immediate future. Whether I post some archive blogs or short think pieces, I’m not sure, but I thought it was fair to let you know that Ford On Film will be updated much more infrequently for a while.

In the meantime, keep watching lots of films, keep reading my previous blogs, and I’ll see you soon.

Peace and love,

Harry J. Ford

Truman Show

 

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Us is a terrifying, ambitious second feature from Jordan Peele

After his directorial debut, social horror Get Out, earned over $200 million at the box office, entered a new phrase into the pop culture lexicon (‘The Sunken Place’), and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, it’s fair to say Jordan Peele’s second feature faced high expectations. Thankfully, Peele proves that he’s no one-hit wonder with Us, a terrifying and hugely-ambitious new horror that suggests Peele might be the next big genre director.

Us 1

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We have the first trailer for Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the Joker…and it looks really good!

When I first heard that Joaquin Phoenix had signed on to play the Joker in Todd Phillips’ origin film, I was sceptical. I adore Phoenix and think he’s one of the greatest actors in the world, but the prospect of yet another comic book origin story – combined with the still-fresh memory of Jared Leto’s abysmal depiction in Suicide Squad – left me feeling pretty uneasy.

Today, the first ‘teaser’ for Joker has been released…and I’m pleased to say it looks really cool! Visually reminiscent of Taxi Driver and Phoenix’s recent violent thriller You Were Never Really Here, Joker shows Phoenix’s failing clown and comedian Arthur Fleck as he gets abused and worn down by the grim world around him. Known for his raw physicality, Phoenix appears to have lost Christian Bale-levels of weight for the role, while his usual intensity and unpredictable energy is visible throughout.

Only time will tell whether this is a cool trailer for a disappointing feature or the first signs of an exciting new comic book movie, but either way, I’m way, way more excited for Joker’s October release. If it’s even half as good as the trailer suggests, we may be looking at the next Dark Knight. Fingers crossed.

Watch the Joker teaser here:

By Harry J. Ford

 

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The first trailer for Jim Jarmusch’s zombie film is here, and it looks amazing

Bill Murray. Adam Driver. Tilda Swinton. Chloe Sevigny. Steve Buscemi. Tom Waits. Iggy Pop. Danny Glover. Selena Gomez. Caleb Landry Jones. Rosie Perez. RZA.

What do these people all have in common? 

They all star in the first trailer for Jim Jarmusch’s upcoming zombie film The Dead Don’t Die. 

It’s been nearly three years since Jarmusch’s last film (and my pick for Best Film of 2016), Paterson. While it’s perhaps a left field choice to go from a gentle comedy drama about a poetical bus driver to a schlocky zombie comedy, you can rest assured that nobody does deadpan absurdism or laconic cool quite like the director of Stranger Than Paradise and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Featuring an all-star cast, death by katanas, and the way Adam Driver says the word “Ghouls”, this is bound to be tons of fun.

Watch the trailer for The Dead Don’t Die:

By Harry J. Ford

 

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RIP Agnès Varda, female pioneer of the French New Wave

In very sad news, Agnès Varda has died at the age of 90. The lone female trailblazer of the French New Wave movement, Varda first came to prominence in world cinema with her masterful 1962 drama Cléo from 5 to 7. From there, Varda remained prolific, continuing to direct dramas and documentaries – her final film, Varda by Agnès, premiered just a few months ago.

A powerhouse auteur of European independent cinema, Varda released several outstanding works, including 1984’s deeply-moving Vagabond, 2000’s popular documentary The Gleaners and I, and 2017’s Oscar-nominated Faces Places. Never slowing down and always innovating (she was an early adopter of digital cameras for her documentaries), Varda was truly a one-of-a-kind filmmaker, and remains perhaps the most influential and inspirational female director of her generation. Her contribution to cinema has been invaluable, and her lively spirit and enthusiasm will be dearly missed.

Agnes

RIP Agnès Varda 

1928-2019

Happy 20th Anniversary, Futurama!

Good news everyone!

On this day in 1999, ‘Space Pilot 3000’ premiered on Fox, and the world was introduced to hapless delivery boy Phillip J. Fry, misanthropic robot Bender, kickass cyclops Turunga Leela, and the crazy, demented world of New New York in the year 3000. Even now, it’s incredible to watch Futurama‘s pilot episode and see how perfectly formed the show was from the start. Over the next four years, the show would go from strength to strength, reaching a pinnacle of creative animation, hilarious character comedy, and genuine poignancy only Matt Groening’s other show could reach. 

Though it’s post-cancellation revival over at Comedy Central didn’t quite reach the same heights as those early seasons, it’s fair to say Futurama remained as lovable and inventive as ever. The adventures of the Planet Express crew – downtrodden crustacean Dr. Zoidberg, ditzy Amy Wong, Jamaican bureaucrat Hermes Conrad and of course, senile Professor Farnsworth – are still some of the most enjoyable sitcom episodes around, and twenty years on from its debut, few animations have come close to topping it.  To celebrate, let’s remember Fry and Leela’s final, beautiful exchange:

“Want to go round again?”

“I do.”

Futurama

By Harry J. Ford

 

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Why is Under the Silver Lake the most divisive film of the year?

There’s something exciting about genuinely divisive cinema. Lots of films come and go with huge critical acclaim or a gluttony of one-star reviews, but it’s rare to find films that completely split people down the middle. Think of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, despised by Roger Ebert yet loved by his on-screen partner Gene Siskel. Recall Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, a deeply distressing film that caused many to flee cinemas. In recent years, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! split critical opinion; some found it wild and intense, while others believed the director had disappeared up his own arse.

This week, another such film is being released in the UK, nearly a year after it premiered at Cannes to bewildered reactions. David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, his  follow-up to the terrifying It Follows, couldn’t be more polarising. Time Out gave it five stars, calling it ‘hypnotic, spiralling and deliriously high”, while Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian despised the film, ranting that it is “catastrophically boring, callow and indulgent”. Whether good or bad, these reactions always suggest a film with grand ambitions, a film that challenges taboos or offers no easy frame of reference – a film that dares to be genuinely different. Having watched Under the Silver Lake, I can understand the mixed reactions and intense love/hatred.

But just what is it that makes Under the Silver Lake such an oddity?

Under the Silver Lake 1

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10 Great Films Directed by Women – The Fifty Eight magazine

Happy International Women’s Day everybody! In the spirit of celebrating all things feminine, I’ve wrote an article about ten great films directed by women for The Fifty Eight magazine. There are some great films and directors listed, including Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.

Check it out here.

Lady Bird

By Harry J. Ford

 

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