Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Origins of an Auteur Blogathon

John of Hitchcock's World is hosting a blogathon where the objective to discuss the directorial debut of a prominent director. The rules are pretty simple:
  1. Pick one director and identify his or her first feature film. It must be the first feature film (i.e. over one hour runtime) listed in her/his filmography.
  2. While you will be primarily discussing that one film, you should have an understanding at least some of the director's later films, enough to be able to recognize his or her style.
  3. Analyze your chosen film in relation to the director's later projects. What elements of his or her style do you see here?
  4. Keep in mind that this blogathon is based on critical thinking and analysis, not simply on whether you liked the film. Your post should not be so much on the film itself as what it says about the director.
  5. Repeats (i.e. two people writing about the same director and film) are acceptable, but discouraged. If you do choose a topic someone else is writing about, try to find something different to say on the subject.
  6. Include a banner and a link back to this post. There are several banners to choose from below, and you are permitted to create your own provided they fit the blogathon's themes.
So what did I choose?

(1994, dir. Danny Boyle)
Admittedly I'm only familiar with a small handful of Boyle's later films (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine), but I did manage to take note of a few trademarks that Boyle would use in some of his other work. (Some of them are courtesy of IMDb.)

(Spoilers ahead!)

Trademark #1: The opening shot is from the middle of the movie
In this case, the opening shot is used twice later on in the film: first after the trio dispose of the body, and again at the end as David's body is stored away at the mortuary.

Trademark #2: Large amount of money as a MacGuffin
Much like what Boyle would do with Millions (and as a subplot later on in Trainspotting), the stash of cash moves the plot forward. (And also shows who the greedy bastards are in the film.)

Trademark #3: The protagonists are often unsympathetic in some way
Good Lord, yes. For God's sake, the whole premise of the film revolves around the three leads trying to cover up the death of their flatmate. Granted, David has a conscience early on but that soon gets frittered away as his paranoia builds...and more bodies start to pile up.

Trademark #4: Effective use of music editing
It features a very ironic use of Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me" after the trio discover the body. (It's a matter of listening to the lyrics to understand its irony.) And what better way to capture the mood of a murder, an attempted murder and a betrayal than having all of it set to Andy Williams' "Happy Heart"?

Trademark #5: Bright, colorful landscapes
Well, it's more to do with the flat the three share. For a film with a story as dark as this, there's a certain dissonance with the flat's color scheme. (According to IMDb, it's based on Edward Hopper's "Movie Lobby".)


  1. Great post! I love Boyle's work, but admittedly I haven't seen Shallow Grave, but I've seen pretty much everything he's done after that.

  2. I've seen quite a few of Danny Boyle's films, in fact, I think all of them bar Shallow Grave! Just from looking at your list, it seems like he's losing some of his signature styles, which is a shame really (though I can't say I've watched any of the films recently) because you've identified some really good ones! I just want to watch Shallow Grave now.

  3. I've always enjoyed Boyle because he can't be pegged. He creates films in various genres and gives them all a taste of his own personality. I don't always love what he does, but I always admire his work. The only film of his I haven't seen yet is Trance.

    Nice work here. My piece on Dolan will be up tomorrow morning!

    1. As do I. Speaking of which, I should probably see a few more of his movies... (And I will be sure to read your Dolan piece.)

  4. Hi. I was trying to contact you via your blog last time about my Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon that I was hosting in honor of Ethel's Birthday, but I couldn't seem to comment on your blog from my Wordpress account. However I think I've worked it out.

    I'm hosting another blogathon next month, and because you participate in blogathons, I wanted to invite you. The link is below with more details


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