Sunday 7 June 2015

BLACK HOLE CLASSICS #2 - 2001: A Space Odyssey - 7.6.15

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Tony Black hosts another Classic special, focusing on the greatest movies as chosen by special guests. This time around, Owen Hughes of Failed Critics discusses 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the seminal and groundbreaking 1968 science-fiction film from Stanley Kubrick, and why it's a serious contender for the greatest motion picture ever made...

from Black Hole Cinema

Review: Spring

Year: 2014 (U.K Release 2015)
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.
Screenplay: Justin Benson
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker

Synopsis is here

The most revealing I took away from Spring; the sophomore effort from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, was its romance. When I say this, I do not mean romanticising. A currently popular horror trend at the moment are doe eyed tributes to the good old days. These entries are sometimes remakes, but often pastiches of past flavours that worked out previously before. As enjoyable as many of these films can be, it’s fascinating to see a horror film take as an acute left turn. If Spring takes anything from horror films from the past, it’s the emotional elements which lie bubbling underneath the surface of the likes of An American Werewolf in London (1981) or Don’t Look Now (1973). Benson and Moorhead do want their characters to feel fear, although the cause may not be the reason an audience may expect.

As with their debut Resolution (2012) Benson and Moorhead we are once again dropped into a world of slackers with their lives in personal freefall. Evan; a young man who has recently lost both parents, decides to take a trip away from America to Europe. This is partly to clear his mind, but also to avoid both the lowlifes and authorities who are looking for him. He finds himself in a remote part of Italy and in a presence of the beautiful Louise. Her hard-to-get behavior, only means Evan is more drawn towards her.  She’s smart, challenging and holds a keen sense of wit. Why is it that she seems to be hiding something from him?

What makes Benson and Moorhead stand out from the horror crowd is their disciplined focus on character. In both Resolution and Spring, the films never neglect who we’re watching and how they feel. It’s a strange turn of events when we consider the genre is now more often or not about how we watch people die. Spring is deeply concerned with Evan and Louise sentiments. Set over a five day period, the film plays out like an extended version of Before Sunrise (1995), concentrating and developing the couple’s courtship into a tender early relationship. So deliberately paced is this nurturing, one may ask where the horror actually is.

The dread does seep through. Like contamination. Spring is punctuated by short moments of beastly goings on. All of which build to a fascinating concept of genetic anxiety. But what Spring (and its creators) excel at, is the fear of nothingness. The youthful slackers they track stare into the abyss, only to have it stare back at them.  Throughout the story, the abject imagery of rotting corpses follows Evan. The film’s opening is of him witnessing his mother wasting away to cancer. Almost a call back to Chris’ junkie self-destruction, which is the catalyst of Resolution. In a modern world in which our mainstream young (super) heroes have no real sense of death, Spring carefully deconstructs the fear of the finite for those not destined for greatness. As the film progresses we gain a clear sense of what Evan has lost and what Louise (through a wonderfully controlled physical performance by Nadia Hilker) may lose.

This may feel problematic for some who are more in tune to the cattle prodded jolts of The Conjuring (2013). Even in its aesthetic; Spring’s gorgeously hazy, sun kissed cinematography betrays it’s horror underpinnings. I’m certainly sure the film's pacing of the horror will be irksome to some. Yet Spring’s investment in its characters, the sweetness of its central relationship and intelligent modern focus on universal fears that we of a younger age should hold, makes Spring an engaging and tender romantic horror film who those who are looking for something a little different.