New To The Film, Late To The Party

As someone who takes an active interest in films I try to watch as many as I can in a week. Watching films I’ve seen before is all well and good because I’ll know how good or bad it is. The real fun however comes from watching films for the first time. Now I realised that there were certain films I should have seen by this age and it was high time that I got around to watching them. It was only recently that I started to do so and have realised I should have done a lot sooner. What with being older and having more distractions it does make it more difficult to find time to watch films, but after a short period of having little work I had time to make up for my sins so to speak. I was very pleasantly surprised.

‘Blade Runner’ was the first on my list, knowing that it was known for being one of the greatest sci fi films to have been made. Watching it with an open mind definitely paid off; in short I found it to be brilliant. The story and the characters were strong, with the actors giving performances that were very well suited to the subject matter. The special effects were impressive as well, looking both artistic and realistic throughout and never feeling like they were badly designed. It was good to see a big bold science fiction film that was dark and gritty but then also had layers to it. The underlying theme of wanting to meet your maker was really quite special and had a big impact on how I viewed the film. It added a level of thought that other films fail to capture, giving it an edge on other science fiction films. It was definitely worth watching and strengthened by respect for Ridley Scott.

The second film, which I must admit I really should have watched sooner and I’m disappointed that I didn’t, is Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ from 2002. It made it better for me in a sense to know that the story behind the film was true, because it made the sequences even more impressive. I was hooked for start to finish, impressed deeply by the intelligence of young Frank Abagnale jr and his actions over the years. The casting was absolutely spot on, Amy Adams was brilliant as the young doctor that fell in love with Abagnale and Tom Hanks was fantastic as the police detective pursuing the leading character. But the star performance for me was undoubtedly Leonardo DiCaprio who masterfully played a young conman who was confident and intelligent, and had the charm of a man twice his age. I really like the use of soundtrack, it suited the sequences that Spielberg shot to make the film visually appealing with a straight edged soundtrack to back it up. A cat and mouse story had never been so enjoyable and so intriguing, becoming more interesting as the story developed. It may be simple but I think Spielberg did a terrific job and it’s a film he deserves a lot more credit for.

For regular readers of my blog it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I’m a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, I’ve written many times about his work and how much I admire it. However it wasn’t until recently I finally around to watching some of his older working, starting of with his 2002 film ‘Punch-Drunk Love’. It’s safe to say that after watching it my respect for PTA went through the roof, it is an incredible piece of film. It’s a small, delicate art house film that manages to be straight edged and tight at the same time. Telling an obscure story based around a rather odd main character, it was a film that was so simple which added to the genius. PTA’s writing for the film was superb, with an oddly brilliant story and excellent screenplay that was witty and intelligent and added more layers to the characters. He is clearly a writer that is talented and understands his audience well, allowing him to write films that are artistic genius. I have to commend PTA also because he managed to make a film with Adam Sandler in that was brilliant. Sander’s acting isn’t something I’ve been a fan of in the past, but this film is his best work by far. His acting is very good indeed, presenting someone who is clearly emotionally unstable and yet hopelessly in love. PTA’s artistic directing style made the film visually outstanding and one of the best films I have ever had the pleasure to watch; a near flawless work of art.

Following the interest I have in PTA I moved swiftly on to his 1997 drama ‘Boogie Nights’ which was a completely different kettle of fish. It was a film that I can only describe as being gritty and dirty but in a good way. Making a film that is centered around the porn industry was always going to be a risky move, but with the brilliant writing and artistic directing style of PTA it was never going to be bad. Detailing the rise and fall of a young actor in the adult film industry ‘Boogie Nights’ manages to be both engaging and hilarious as it jumps straight into the disco era of the seventies and then moves on to the hard hitting eighties. The cast is brilliant, with everyone giving top notch performances, featuring older faces as well as big stars in their younger years. It was a gritty look in to an industry full of controversy and arrogance, and watching some of the scenes you do feel quite dirty but you realise that it’s not in a bad way. I was completely immersed into the world of sex, drugs and violence whilst being intrigued by the themes based around fame and greed. In no way is this film a one sided film, there are artistic elements and deeper underlying themes that require a second viewing to be appreciated fully, which for me shows the true extent of PTA’s genius as a film maker.

I consider it an act of stupidity having not seen these films before, but I would like to think it was an act of redemption by seeking these films out as soon as I could. I urge anyone who has an active interest in films to watch any and all of the films mentioned in this post. They are all brilliant and whatever I have said about them doesn’t give them nearly enough credit. They all impressed me greatly and exceeded by high expectations. Even if you are not massively interested in films I would recommend them any way, you might find something in them that you didn’t expect.

There’s a commonly used expression that says “it’s things you don’t do in life you regret” and I think the same can be said for films. I’ll never regret watching a film, but I will regret the rather idiotic decision of not watching a film.

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