Saturday, 30 April 2011

La Barbilla

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe
Chosen by me because I like Burn Notice I guess.

Bruce Campbell has been turning in some terrific performances in the show Burn Notice, a minor but fun Macguyver knock off and here was a movie to fill in some of the back story of his enjoyable character Sam Axe.
Unfortunately this is a rather lame flashback, with some ok action and nice Campbell beats (very silly but funny call back to Evil Dead with a chainsaw) but lacks any real dramatic tension. The stakes don't feel especially high, Sam Axe doesn't really do anything more or less than Sam Axe would generally do.
It all feels rather generic lacking any sort of twist or oomph to spice up proceedings.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Can I see yours?

The Tattooist (2007)
Chosen by Brian Marshall who had this to say: 'a horror movie of sorts about tattoos and tattoo artists, what more do you want?'

What more? Oh something good would be nice.
This is like one of those X-Files episodes that focuses on some communities' superstitions and ancient ways. But it lacks anybody to really care about and in clocking in at 90 odd mins has to have a whole lot of nothing happen before reaching it's obvious, inevitable conclusion.
What would be a minor, forgettable X File becomes an absolute chore only reaching anything interesting about twice - a silly hospital scene where the phantom tattoos seem to make one woman's body want to re-enact a famous scene from The Thing and a 'chav' (or whatever the New Zealand/Samoan version of a 'chav' would be?) boy who can communicate with spirits but needs to speed in a car listening to very loud music to do so for some reason.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

We're all the same

Wassup Rockers (2005)
Chosen by Adam Grimes who had this to say: 'This film has skateboards long hair and punk rock, need I say anymore. Plus the director from kids did it'

This takes all the strong, interesting aspects of Kids (natural rhythms, a palpable sense of time and place, a raw 'real' feeling) and squanders it on silly set pieces.
The kids (not nearly as good as those in Kids) are ok when just chewing the fat but when asked to actually act can't deliver and the situations they get in so contrived and dumb it feels like a parody of Clark's earlier film.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Girls... naked girls... in a fishtank.

Local Hero (1983)
Chosen by me from my stack of unwatched DVDs

Like a Scottish, less aggressive Father Ted. It's almost too gentle to register, there is little to no conflict (on being told her Marine Institute isn't being built but instead a massive oil shipping base one character merely shrugs it off saying that won't happen) but the film has some warmth and funny moments coupled by good performances.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

You know, for a crazy homeless person... he's pretty cut

Thor (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot

Another solid fun movie from Marvel studios. They continue their trend of hiring interesting cast and crew.
Hemsworth is great as the happy warrior god presenting a presence and charisma that you believe would be followed by all, and the rest of the actors are generally good at filling in their character's often brief roles.
In fact Thor's biggest problem is the size of it's cast compared to how much time they get. We have at least 2 too many Asgardians (I like having Sif but did we need all the Warrior's 3 aswell if they are barely going to register?) and Kat Dennings, as wonderful as she is, doesn't really add much to the proceedings beyond some snark that Portman's character probably could have delivered.
The 3D was underwhelming and has the unfortunate effect of darkening everything and the colours in Thor should really 'pop' more than this allowed.
It has a much more interesting post credits scene than Iron Man 2 that doesn't just set up an item Marvel Comic book fans will probably recognise but a nice bit of threat and a James Bond style 'Thor will return in The Avengers' hook.

Monday, 25 April 2011

I think she wants me to rub olive oil on your taint.

Baby Mama (2008)
Chosen by me from my stack of unwatched DVDs

This plays the usual game of Rom Com shuffle, where a successful single woman is not seen as whole until she has a family (though not nearly as horrid as some recent examples like The Ugly Truth) this at least puts the females front and centre (Greg Kinnear is a bland nothing) and is a lightweight fancy.
Nothing here is very funny but it's not grossly offensive either, trading on some lazy tropes ('they're the original odd couple!') but bolstered by Poehler and Fey's easy chemistry and good comic timing.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Who wouldn't want to marry a sexy clown.

Arthur (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

I have moaned about a few cliches I am very tired of over the past 113 movies (abuse as tool of empowerment back in film 93 being a most hated example - yay, get yourself on that rape ladder to success kids!) and Arthur has one that can really throw me out of a movie.
It comes towards the end but is building up to it throughout the whole film. No matter how bad the match, no matter how nice the person is generally, if they dump someone on the altar it drives me crazy. It's lazy drama 101. Creating a false conflict and resolution. Just no need for it. His mother may have respected him for finally becoming his own man but I would have respected him much more if he had come to the decision earlier, say before wedding invites are handed out.
Apart from that it's intermittantly amusing, Brand performs his man child with a hint of intelligence hidden behind the eyes but the romance between him and poor working class woman feels as rote (she's barely in the trailer and not mentioned on the poster showing how important marketing thinks she is) and forced as the arranged marriage with the greedy tycoon wannabe. She is kind of adorable though, the sort of role Zooey Deschanel usually plays filled nicely by Greta Gerwig.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

And above all else, we never ever let them get into cars.

Fast Five (or Fast and the Furious Five or Rio or something) (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot

A slick, ridiculous action flick. Not a jot of it makes sense (both plot wise - why burn the money stealing it would have the same effect? and physics wise - god only knows how dragging that box around works) but as long as it's in motion it's watch-able enough but the second it stops to deliver any heart warming homilies about family impatience sets in quickly and you may find yourself tapping your fingers and rolling your eyes.
It seems to rip off a twist from one of the Ocean's movies (maybe it was an episode of Leverage? - I watch a lot of crappy Con Artist stuff) but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out before the reveal anyway.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Because someday, trust me, I'm gonna need help movin' a body. When that day comes, I don't wanna hear any shit from you.

Just Like Heaven (2005)
Chosen by Brian Marshall who had this to say 'a guilty pleasure film starring the attractive Reese Witherspoon and the equally hot Mark Ruffalo. An enjoyable rom-com with supernatural elements though the cynic in me much preferred the alternate ending.'

Not horrid but Ruffalo seems an odd choice for this kind of film, never fully convincing as a romantic lead.
It pretty much goes through the motions offering no surprises, competently but dully made.
The alternative ending is a very amusing joke but would be an absolutely terrible way to end this film (even the original book was not as mean and fixed things for it's sequel).
The actual ending (the deleted scene alternative was only made as a joke which suggests they may have had more fun making the film than I did watching it) may not be a surprise but there something to be said of delivering the expected, no one wants to feel their investment of time has been wasted.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

You get sand in places you never knew you had

The Last Drop (2006)
Chosen by Darron Bowley who had this to say: 'This is Kinda a weird film for me. Honestly, it's not that great a film but despite that I do like it, more for what it could have been than what it was though. It had great potential, good story Idea, not a bad cast, some interesting characters (especially the two rogue Germans) but somehow it just doesn't seem to all come together like it should. It should have been the British Kelly's Heroes and maybe with tighter scripting it could have pulled that off but ultimately it didn't. Oh, and then there is the completely random Michael Madsen cameo, WTF?'

What an odd beast. It starts as a fairly straight war story, cutting in black and white images amongst some fairly poor special effects and an interesting low key approach to action. But it soon turns into a Kelly's Heroes style romp with strange anachronisms (some rock music plays over a sequence involving a mined road) and a peculiar sense of morals (two Germans are ostensibly the lead roles, whose motives for robbery/revenge seem justified by the film - though I must have missed exactly why the SS guy betrayed them)
It never gels all it's tones into something particularly watchable, performances vary (Madsen is just awful) from an eclectic cast (Jack Dee?). Too silly for a serious war film, but also not fun enough for an adventure flick.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Jeff brown - Star athlete, who believed so much in exercise that he made many a girl walk home

College (1927)
Chosen by me from my stack of unwatched DVDs.

Another movie where Keaton acts like a arsehole (he's grossly condescending to everyone around him) and does the occasional clever pratfall.
It's all a bit dull really although has a couple of bonkers bits. One where he goes Blackface (even the African Americans in the film don't realise though they do get rather angry when his ruse is found out) to be a busboy The other the incredibly compressed 30 secs composing the rest of the two leads lives together right up to the grave.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Every time I see a bag of Hershey kisses, my balls get so wet

harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanomo Bay (2008)
Chosen by Brian Marshall who had this to say: 'a no brain stoner movie sadly not as funny as Harold and Kumar get the Munchies, but still fun. Neil Patrick Harris as usual steals the show. Don’t expect highbrow but sit back switch off your brain and enjoy the ride.'

This starts with a gag about having a big shit and goes downhill from there (within about two minutes one of our heroes has spunked in his own face).
Pretty much worthless, it hits every joke you'd expect with the dull clunk of moribund inevitability.
Painful, dull, horrid.

Monday, 18 April 2011

If you love her, you'll let her go

Red Riding Hood (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Rather than use fairy tale to offer a subversive take on the world (ala Freeway) or highlight interesting themes and storytelling devices (such as a Neil Gaiman or a Angela Carter might do) this merely uses the fable set up to frame a love triangle of pasty faced look-a-likes who mope around achieving not much of anything really.
Like Scream all the other characters are simply there to be red herrings for the mystery of who is the werewolf (and like that recent movie it's not terribly hard to figure it out as it keeps side-lining the suspect in question).
It's not terribly made, offering up the odd pretty image but the deft touch with family dynamics Hardwicke exhibited in Twilight is not present here though the action is slightly better staged.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

I don't want your gift

Johnny Mad Dog (2008)
Chosen by The Quad Cinema in Derby kinda. We won their monthly film quiz and this was one of the prizes.

This had passed me by when it came out, despite appearance at Cannes, controversial subject matter and being produced by Mathieu Kassovitz. But I can only imagine that every single review mentioned the word 'brutal' and probably 'uncompromising'.
It is a harsh watch, even if with adults in the roles but with children between 10 and 15 it hammers home the horrific nature of the Liberian Civil War even if never coming to grips with how this happened (deliberately so, at one point the kids think a speech by Martin Luthor King is from the President, they are as ignorant as to what they are fighting for as I am).
It has a rough, loose structure, never really cohering into anything more than a series of unconnected incidents but has a horrid realism to it that is strangely both exploitative and redemptive (a lot of the actors were child soldiers themselves in the war, and trained how to act for film).

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The unexpected is the new cliche

Scream 4 or Scre4m or Scre Four Em (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot and it has Alison Brie in it.

Well if the unexpected is the new cliche Scream 4 has nothing to worry about as there is nothing unexpected in this film what-so-ever.
It moans about sequels and remakes of horror films marginalising character development to just parade non-entities on screen and kill them. And then does exactly that. No one here is a fully formed character, everyone is simply designed as a red herring. It doesn't really matter who pulls that mask off at the end and reveals themself - it's as arbitrary as some of the victims (the killers' plot really makes no sense). It half heartedly tries to put forth the idea that even some of the original cast could be our Ghostface this time but Scream is not exactly known for it's braveness in storytelling (it must have the highest retention rate of it's core cast for any horror series, one of the killers even exasperates that Sydney is like Michael Myers and just won't die) and it knows it.
Despite everyone in town being a potential Ghostface it's still incredibly obvious which way the film is going to go (some of the other red herrings have much better reasons to be killing but still), a supposedly main character seems sidelined for much of the film which should be a very good indication of their malefic intentions.
It's a fairly slick vehicle to see pretty young things killed off but little more. The remake gags don't offer a huge amount more than the sequel jokes did back with Scream 2 but also is underdeveloped enough to make the killers' bizarre plan not nearly clever enough as a concept.

Friday, 15 April 2011

you shoulda shot that fella a long time ago. Now he's too rich to kill.

Giant (1956)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say: 'This takes A LOT of sitting of though so much so I've only watched it in its entirety once, you even have to flip the dvd over! However once again it has a stunning performance by Dean, and it doesn't hurt that he's a handsome cowboy! It does cover a long time scale which makes it rewarding to watch but one viewing might be enough'

Like Gone with the Wind if that film replaced civil war for oil, Giant is a long, dull, worthy (it tackles racism but itself pans away from Dennis Hopper kissing his Mexican bride) 'Epic' with some good performances but too full of screenwriter's contrivances that depower any genuine sentiment it wants to earn.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Magic. Motherfucker!

Your Highness (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

A better Dungeons and Dragons movie than the DnD films themselves. This is a well made and for the most part straight fantasy story.
With lots and lots of swearing.
Which I found funny every time. There's a trend for fantasy to be very middle class and conservative which this both subverts and reinforces.
However it really needed to be funnier, not just relying on (a huge amount) of gay panic jokes and overt sexual gags but is occasionally quite clever and had they paid as much attention to the humour as they do the tropes and cliches it could have been The Princess Bride for the stoner crowd. As it is it's a bit more like a big budget Flesh Gordon.
The cast are mostly game (Deschanel doesn't really get to do much), with Justin Theroux and Toby Jones being particularly good.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Shouldn't everybody care about everybody else?

On the Waterfront (1954)
Chosen by Victoria Charvill who had this to say: 'An amazing cast with Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint... I think Karl Malden pretty much made the film for me, particularly his crucifixion speech. Acting, scripting, cinematography; everything is perfect.'

Every bit as good as it's reputation would suggest.
Brilliant performances fuel a slightly preachy take on Union and Mafia politics but it's Brando's Terry Malloy that makes the whole thing work. A compelling punch drunk heavy who is too dumb to quite understand the corruption around him but too noble to just ignore it.
Martin Balsam pops up in a small role but is as excellent as ever.
I love films who's climaxes basically involves someone walking purposefully (see also Hitchcock's amazing Notorious which racks up tension from someone simply stepping down some stairs) and the end to Waterfront is rousing and powerful stuff. The fight isn't the important bit, it's standing for something that counts.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Oh well, there's nothing wrong with G-rated movies, as long as there's lots of sex and violence.

Elvira (1988)
Chosen by Matt McGowan who had this to say: 'What started out as a job hosting late night reruns of bad horror movies on cable tv turned into a cult phenomenon for Cassandra Peterson, or as she's better known Elvira. This movie being the logical milking of the cash cow she'd created. It's perfect 80's trash, within the first 5 minutes it's sets the tone for it humour and never deviates from what you'd expect of it. In that regards it's perfect, perfectly awful, but that good awful you can help to love. A guilty pleasure.'

Elvira is a horridly smug, condescending rather annoying character with a dreadful sense of humour.
But it's hard to completely hate on the film. It's too slight and silly to really offend but, dear god, the jokes are bad. Which is obviously part of the appeal for some.
The plot never coheres into anything past excuses for Elvira and her generous cleavage to bounce a lot. Seriously, a lot. Which is obviously part of the appeal for some.
For all it's talk of the stuffy town's morality council the film is strangely chaste, aiming itself at horny 13 year old boys rather than having any genuine sexiness or controversy to it(though a inadvertent roofie does come close to offering a subversive orgy scene).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Ah love! Such a powerful and stupid thing.

Rio (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Pleasant for the most part. Fast paced and silly enough to not get too dull, with at least one fun song (from Flight of the Conchords Jermaine Clement).
It feels a bit too contrived by committee (the monkeys seem set up for Penguins from Madagascar style spin offs) and plot is driven by a desire for the two leads to mate which just feels a little odd in a kids film.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

War starts at midnight!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Chosen by me from my pile of unwatched DVDs.

Powell and Pressburger come through again in what may be their best film (though Black Narcissus and Red Shoes offer strong competition).
Opening with a blustery General shocked at the young whipper-snapper cheating at the war game, a buffonish figure in look and protestations of foul play it flashes back 40 years to tell the life of this comic character. And in doing so becomes not the film you might think it would be.
Roger Livesey's brilliant portrayal of Candy is backed up by a witty, occasionally preachy, sometimes melancholic script and superb direction.
Candy is a splendidly complex character, full of flaws but backed by a sense of fair play that far from making him seem a sap makes him a true idealist (even if he is sometimes wrong). The film is played without melodrama (major characters die off screen with only a newspaper note to say so and is much more devastating for it) and when it comes back round to the war game it's genuinely sad that Candy is being beaten turning the scene on it's head.
The rest of the cast are terrific, Deborah Kerr playing multiple roles always fun and strong. Anton Walbrook is great as a German soldier with conflicting loyalties, though his old age make-up is not strong the playing of those scenes always is.

Very, very happy with this as my 100th filmaday movie.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Black Dynamite, that was the best loving I ever had.

Black Dynamite (2009)
Chosen by Andrew who had this to say: 'Black Dynamite is a spot on spoof of blaxploitation cinema with a solid performance by satr and co-writer Michael Jai White. Recommended just for the nunchuck fight with a certain disgraced United States President.'
Often very, very funny indeed with some spot on gags but it's slightly too long to sustain it's joke which relies on pointing out time and time again that many of these films were badly made.
It's on firmer footing when spoofing script elements (everyone, including his aunt calls him Black Dynamite) than the bits of fluffed filming and when playing fast and loose with plot (it takes time to visit a secret kung fu island and the White House) can be hilarious.
Like Hot Fuzz it has an old lady being kicked, which is just never not funny I guess.

Friday, 8 April 2011

♫le nubi sono già più in là...♫

Arrivederci Amore Ciao (2006)
Chosen by Clarry McDonald who had this to say: 'read the book, bought the movie. Broad subject - crime, political betrayal etc. Semi- operatic.'

Often I choose the movie for the day by the one that is the shortest on the pile (I get back from work late most days and can be quite tired). This one said it was 148 mins so stayed on the pile for a while. It actually meant 1 hour 48 minutes ( I was a little confused when it seemed to be reaching a natural conclusion and still had about 50 minutes to go and then the credits started rolling).
Michele Soavi made the great existential zombie movie Dellamorte Dellamore but doesn't bring much to this tale of murder, betrayal, drugs and money.
The plot is bitty, episodic and lacks any real dramatic tension. Characters come and go before you really get a feel for them (it takes a lot of time setting up a crew for a heist then basically that plot finishes five minutes later).

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Ring 0: Birthday
Chosen by Victoria Charvill who had this to say: 'If you enjoyed Ring, this is a must-see. After the disappointment of 2, this was a return to form. Nakamo does a wonderful job of portraying Sadako's attempt at a normal life in this poignant doomed love story.'

Going to have to disagree with Victoria a great deal here. I found this to be an incredibly dull pointless prequel  that has nothing to match the power of Sadako crawling out of the teevee and instead almost seems a parody the Japanese horror cycle. Can we retire the tinkle-tinkle music used to denote something is creepy yet? (I always think of it as an X-Files thing for some reason but it was certainly used earlier like the bit with the spiders in Raiders of the Lost Ark). Sadako is a blank (with good, if confusing - it's been years since I saw the original, what was all the nonsense with the swimmers?- reason I guess) so it's difficult to care over her and Toyama's relationship (he's not much deeper of a character either) and it's hard to get worked up over anything here.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Worth waiting for.

Ice Cold In Alex (1958)
Chosen by Darron Bowley who had this to say: 'A true British film, wherein the making of tea is a key plot point! beautifully cinematography, brilliant acting and tense plotting all comes together in a very famous pay off. I found this film so engrossing, I genuinely forgot it was in black and white while I was watching it'

Absolutely splendid. And possibly the greatest advert for Carlsberg ever (I'm teetotal and even I fancied a sip of that very badly poured beer in the films famous climax - spoilerphobes must hate that dvd cover).
It plays with the cliches of this kind of tale (a trip through mine infested sand, a potential traitor) extremely well with only a little repetition (but not so much as to be dull) and manages to find it's focus in complex, interesting characters, well performed by all the cast.
There's great humanism displayed here both from German Soldiers (including Walter Gotell) and the main cast, with an especially touching moment at the end that doesn't fully ring true but feels right.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Either I'm dead right, or I'm crazy!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Chosen by Victoria Charvill who had this to say: 'I'm a big fan of both James Stewart and Frank Capra, and this partnership doesn't disappoint. Stewart is brilliant as the awestruck, naive yet stubborn Jefferson Smith and I love the filibuster scenes. Jean Arthur is also fab as the savvy assistant. A classic film in which, as the story itself is a rather stylised statement concerning US politics, the characters really make the difference.'

I find the myth of the wholesome simple everyman a little annoying. As if being a gee whizz by golly naif makes you better at being a politician (we see this played out in American politics all the time - where signs of intelligence are frowned upon) but that aside this is a fun film and as fantasy works (though it's ending is very abrupt).
The cast are terrific (if not for Stewart I'm not sure I could have found Mr. Smith palatable at all, he's just not very interesting), Claude Rains and Jean Arthur especially (it's no accident, I dare say, that we end the film with Rains' tortured, corrupted idealist rather than the bland Smith).

Monday, 4 April 2011

Will you take a picture of me? Silly, people take pictures of me all the time but I don't know how to take one of myself...

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)
Chosen by Matt McGowan who had this to say about it: 'The legacy of Bettie Page is well known. Her impact on the world of pin-up photography was unheard of at the time, going from bigger and better things as the years went by, but then leaving the spotlight at her height and disappearing off the modelling scene map completely. Since then her look has been imitated and copied, but never bettered. This movie explores the life and times of this icon, an amazing performance by Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page. This movie offers as much insight into Bettie's life, as it does America through the 40s and 50s.'

There's a fair bit to like about this film. Mol is terrific and it has a bunch of great actors popping up in small roles. It does a good job of bringing across a playful Page but fails to dig beneath that.
It is frustratingly vague in the details skipping over important events to give time to recreations of famous photo-shoots (which is possibly what you want from a film about a pin-up star).
Page comes across as wilfully naive at times. It skirts the ground at making her rather a simpleton. At one point a character is surprised Page is 32, presumably because she looks so young but possibly because she acts so juvenile about things. It's refreshing and part of Page's mystique that she was so unaffected and casual about her work but it becomes hard to take that she seems to have no understanding of the effect of what she is doing.
Like Page herself, Harron can't quite get to grips with the film. It skirts occasionally close to parody with a 'noirish' sax score coming from nowhere and a Miami church service offering a salvation that doesn't seem warrented.
The film takes too much of a distance, it's clearly sympathetic with Page and pornography but doesn't seem to much care what happens, so why should the viewer?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the sheltered will never know

Sucker Punch (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot and this has dragons and robots and clockwork zombies. And blimps, I love blimps.

'You will be unprepared' says the poster's, rather boring, tagline. There was, to be fair despite all the cool things listed above, small chance of me liking this film. Snyder is a director who just makes films that are like a nail down a blackboard to me.

The first half of this wasn't bad
But the tagline was correct. I was unprepared. For just how angry it made me.
Much has been made of how like Inception it is. And indeed with it's multiple levels of reality (4 by my count; the 'real' world, the brothel and the 'action' world are the ones on screen, the 4th I will get to as it solves and causes a whole load of problems) but actually I find it more like Pan's Labyrinth in which a young girl retreats into a fantasy world that is as abusive and lacking in cathartic escapism as the real one. Of course that film works because it spends much more time in the 'real' world, so you have a sense of who everybody is and makes the fantasy have an actual connection to the character imagining it.

A film whose fantasy sections actually have
resonance with character and plot
Taken on a surface level Sucker Punch makes no sense. Leaving aside the anachronistic fantasy elements (even the cast have referred to the villains as Nazis in one section despite it being based on World War One) why would she imagine worlds like this? There is no connective tissue that makes it all work on an emotional or intellectual level.
'So what?' Some people will say 'I just want to see some cool shit' and yeah that's fine. But Snyder's visual style is so mind numbingly dull. All desaturated colours and extremely bad slow motion (it's hard to call something slow motion when the whole film is basically at that speed but still). His action scenes have no verve to them, she spins in the air a lot to little effect and because there is no inherent dramatic backbone the movie undoes itself at every turn. Most shots seem designed to look cool as a still, or a frame in a storyboard or comic but don't hang together as film.

But man, some of these ideas would have
made awesome album covers yeah?
Now all of that would have made for a bad film but one I would have been bored by rather than angered. It get's into some real problems in it's portrayal of woman and how it thinks of a way to excuse that.
Leaving aside the whole peadophile's wet dream look to it (the film makes care to mention the main character is 20 but dresses her up as a schoolgirl and calls her Babydoll, even the only woman with a modicum of authority is referred to as a girl) it trades in the rather annoying trope that empowering women means abusing them first (there's no reason why this film couldn't have just been a bunch of kick-ass women fighting cool shit without having to defend from multiple rape attempts - as the backbone to why they fight matters so little anyway) but this goes one horrid step further by suggesting that the woman want it to be that way.

A kick-ass female who didn't need to be
sexually abused to become strong
Over the opening of a wicked stepfather salaciously clawing his way at two young woman the film has The Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (are made of this) scoring the scene (in the first of some really good songs being appropriated for this dreck, later we get Army of Me, Tomorrow Never Knows, White Rabbit and Search and Destroy), the buttons of her dress ripped off whilst the music is telling us 'some of them want to be abused' and then we get a bit of dialogue from Jon Hamm at the end that had me wanting to throw something at the screen.
It even builds up to this moment, delaying the line itself, but I felt a mounting dread that I knew what he was going to say which basically amounts to - 'she wanted it to happen'. Not just a male wish as his doctor is positioned sympathetically at the end and the fantasy sequence confirms this view. Unbelievably offensive.

A film with a much better use of
Search and Destroy (and music in general)
The mental gymnastics Snyder goes through to defend this worldview are troubling. It is here that he really tries to be clever and the 4th level of reality comes in. We are the 4th level. The film starts with the Warner Bros logo projected on a red theatre curtain, the whole film is a fantasy (we are constantly reminded - which of course removes any dramatic thrust and leaves me time to think of shit like this). Snyder genuinely believes he is commentating on genre fiction as a whole. But where is the critique, the satire? He doesn't so much comment as just regurgitate it's worst excesses. Is he trying to blame the viewer for projecting this fantasy? That doesn't really work because it's set up as something artificial we are watching, the fantasy is his even if we have chosen to look at it. So where is the ironic level he claims? The hidden 5th level of reality.
Well, at least that is more interesting a mystery than whether a spinning top falls over or not.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

It's the same train but it's different

Source Code (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot. And Duncan Jones' Moon was awesome.

A lot has been made over Source Code being a smart science-fiction movie, and it is for the most part but not from being especially clever over the science part (details are thankfully kept to a minimum) but by sticking to strong character work delivered by fine actors (Vera Farmiga once again delights bringing a lot to a rather simple role).
And by far it's smartest move is to be only an hour and a half long, managing to get a great variety over the stories repeated eight minutes without overstaying it's welcome.
A terrific movie, not quite as strong as Moon (which gets a small in joke here) but still marking Jones as a director to keep an eye on.

Friday, 1 April 2011

He should've died up on that windmill

S. Darko (2009)
Chosen by me from my pile of unwatched DVDs but here's what the brilliant had to say about it in an article about undemanded sequels: 'the screenwriters try to recreate the mystical energy and strangeness of the original film without any of the smarts or chops'

Yes, I know what you were thinking at the end of Donnie Darko - 'wait did he just let a pedophile get away with his crimes?' But also you may have been thinking 'hmm I wonder what the young sister will be doing in 8 years time?'
Well at least that's what the makers of this film were hoping.
It mostly just goes through the motions of the first film but with none of it's charm or (much more importantly) humour. It just drags on for an hour and a half, throwing one idea after another at the screen without developing anything or creating characters to care about.
Utterly, utterly pointless.