STEFAN YAP'S FAVOURITE FILMS - TEXT LUKE BATHER
Up until I dragged him up here for a project recently, Stefan Yap hadn’t seen much of England’s grey, dreary and fabulous north. To be fair he does normally have his eye on much nicer-looking things than Oldham, so I decided it was time to find out what actually makes him tick on a visual level and after much introspection, it turns out that in his own words he’s “a lover of melancholy, alienation and loneliness”. Not what you’d expect from a man with a seemingly permanent smile, but there you go. So here, then, are Stefan’s favourite films.
"La Haine" (1995) directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and shot in beautiful black and white. The trio cast of one Black, one Jew and one Arab, representing France’s xenophobic history, follows their self-conflicting consciences in this urban suburb. It shows us another side to Paris, a more visceral and urban one not a polished romantic Paris as most are accustomed; the film is about the disenfranchised youth, it drew a feeling of nostalgia from my own youth growing up on a council estate in south London, by no means the same but still the themes in La Haine are about social class which draw similarities and about the alienation of a generation.
The film is littered with many great shots, from the famous birds-eye shot from a cable to the mirror shot of Vinz when he was re-enacting the Robert DeNiro Scene from Taxi Driver. I love how the whole feel and energy was punchy, rough and ready yet still lingering on beautiful and ugly moments.
Also FYI; La Haine is Hatred.
"Blade Runner" (1982) directed by Ridley Scott
Probably on everyone’s top movies list - guess I’m no exception. Set in a dystopian future LA; a beautiful-dystopian LA; this cyberpunk neo-noir detective story is filled with beautiful mesmerizing set pieces and designs. Not much I can say about this film that hasn’t already been said before. But what I valued most is fundamentally all the sets are real, shot with animatronics and miniatures before the advent of CGI. The sets were genuinely alive, living and dying; and full of pungent neons and colour. Not much was fake, and it feels authentic like a real world that anyone could immerse themselves as I do everytime I see it. It’s been quoted that Blade Runner is a production designers film, and it shows.
Blade Runner is also guilty of having one of my first on screen crushes, Sean Young, not the best basis for all my future attractions. But hey; robot chicks and electric sheep right?
"Drive" (2011) directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
By Nicholas Winding Refn, a seductively lit and for me sensual film. Stars the brooding Ryan Gosling moonlighting as a getaway driver by night and a stunt driver by day so romantically shot and creamy it kept my eyes hypnotized the whole film. It’s hard to place my appeal to Drive, superficially - nicely shot, the pink and turquoise neon palette I’ve even come to use in my own work since and to the odd short framing of the scenes. The 80s electronic synth and the wonderful set pieces. It’s an odd attraction I have, it probably is to the ‘driver’ as it were, it silently screams sex appeal, lust and desire in every frame - and as a straight guy, that’s an achievement… and possibly confusing.
"Lost in Translation" (2003) directed by Sofia Coppola
By Sofia Coppola, set in Japan about a melancholic wife (Scarlett Johansen) and a has-been movie star (Bill Murray). It’s about loneliness and isolation in a place where you are out of place. And how these two people find solace in each others company and making that connection while wandering about Tokyo. I really love its simplicity, and how it captures Japan from the viewpoint of an outsider.
"In the Mood for Love" (2000) directed by Wong Kar-Wai
This little piece from east-asia is about two couples who find out their spouses are cheating on them with each other. Filled with weird voyeuristic compositions and ultra stylized scenes to the soundtrack of Nat King Cole’s “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” the wonderfully casted leads ooze chemistry contrasted by their desire to repress an awkward desire for each other. This film is by Wong Kar-Wai, and his long time DoP Collaborator Christopher Doyle, Australian-Born, Hong-Kong Raised. I absolutely love this duo and their work, and would have listed some of my other favorites from them such as Fallen Angels and 2046. The way its shot really speaks about how it was to live in such close-knit community in a busy 60s Hong Kong, claustrophobic but intimate, crammed but warm.