Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

Weekend Watching – 02.04.09

April 3, 2009

It’s Friday again and the Friday Question has uncovered some shocking facts about a few among our number…

The next bit of business to deal with is your weekend menu of televisual delight.

Watching anything we should know about? Any hidden gems in the schedules? Any staples we need to catch up on?

Maybe you’re off to the picture house or you’ve rented a movie? Or perhaps you’re an internet pirate and you’ve nicked films off the web cherry tree?

Let us know what you’ll be viewing over the next couple of days.

For my part I’ll be watching the usual – Easties, Newsnight Review, Genius, Harry Hill, MOTD, Come Dine… and I’ll also be feasting my eyes on:

Grand National – if I can be bothered to get to Ladbrokes.
The Wire – as part of my rewatching marathon.
My Little Eye – acclaimed, little known horror on ITV I’ve not yet seen.
Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 – the original, obviously. The remake looks poop.

Over to you…

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Jeremy Kyle Is In My Nightmare.mp4

February 18, 2009

A Wednesday extra from myself, Nick of the Tann and ITV’s Jeremy Kyle.

Made over the last couple of days. And if I never hear Kyle’s whining bleat ever again, it’ll be too soon.

Ramshackle video editing = SH’s 1st attempt at video.

The Curious Case of Benjamin’s Button

February 3, 2009

The youthful elixir. It’s a subject that’s rarely dealt with in film these days – the envy of youth and the desire to travel back to less saggy times. The last example I can think of is Death Becomes Her, the over-the-top act-off between Streep and Hawn that vaguely entertained in the 80s. Maybe we’re less obsessed with the idea than we used to be.

More importantly, two hours and thirty four minutes, this bloody film goes on for. It’s a disgrace. And, even worse, buttons only play a very minor role in the story – so why they even mention them in the title is beyond me. There is no single button in the whole movie that Benjamin (Pitt) gets involved with, beyond fastening his lapels!

Forgetting the fact that the title is entirely misleading (with echoes of that other misnamed picture, Who Has Eaten Gilbert’s Grape?), this isn’t a bad movie at all, if you can handle over two and a half hours of Brad Pitt being nice to everyone and falling in love a couple of times. There’re some Forrest-Gump-for-grown-ups moments – the episodic nature lending itself to what amount to skits on loss, war, fatherhood and abandonment. He goes to sea, fights in the war, has a family, and all the while he is going backwards – born an old man and heading towards infancy. So, even if you couldn’t care less about any of the characters and if the relationship with Cate Blanchett seems as phoney to you as it did to me, you can sit back and enjoy the freaky sight of a doddering and withered Pitt in his infant old age.

Personally, I’m hoping for a sequel (‘The Curiouser Case of Benjamin’s Other Button) in which Pitt is the only one whose lifetime runs the right way and the rest of the world is in reverse. So he watches his mum, dad, teachers etc… get younger and younger as he turns into a wrinkly. Though I suspect this would be more expensive to film.

The Culture Show

January 28, 2009

culture show mark kermode lauren laverne bbc2

I like the fact that, among the programmes about thin people purposefully getting fat for scientific reasons on BBC2 and their numerous reality television broadcasts about food, they still find a place for a magazine show about intellectual stuff. It’s good that high-minded people have an outlet for their frustrations. The Culture Show is that outlet.

Last night the show was all about the Scotch (I’ve no idea why), so we were treated to Robert Carlysle talking gibberish under the guise of reciting some Burns poetry. Victor Meldrew talked about if for a bit and then the bloke out of Idlewild did a nice little song.Then they talked to the cumulatively irrelevant Franz Ferdinand and finished with an obligatory (but decidedly non-Scotch) African musical collective.

All very nice, inoffensive and aimed at a specific market. Most folk will prick their ears up for the film bits and the musical sections, then go back to their copies of Titbits when an item comes on about theatre – King Lear last night – presented by the woman with the unmoving mouth, Miranda Sawyer.

My main issue with The Culture Show lies with the presenters. The odd couple being, of course, Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode. The chemistry between these two is really, really odd. When it comes to Kermode’s film reviews, Laverne indulges him with mock-shock gasps when he says something supoosedly scathing and tickles his fancy with scripted questions with blindingly obvious answers so that he can do that thing he does. That thing where he acts like he knows absolutely bloody everything about everything.

Admittedly, Kermode is a very intelligent bloke. He knows a lot about films, but there is one major issue with his style, which is that he’s started to resemble Michael Portillo’s Spitting Image puppet.

His hair is a plasticated lump that looks like it’s been nicked from Gunther Von Hagens’ spleen collection. I can’t get over his ridiculous quiff no matter how hard I try, and whenever I look at Laverne, I can’t get past the fact she works with Steve Jones over on Channel 4 on a weekly basis and doesn’t smash his blasted face in to a mushy pulp to save us from the builder-in-a-skinny-tie idiot.

For my part, I’ve been brainstorming better presenter couplings for the Culture Show – and here are some ideas:

  • James Bardem and June Brown
  • Jermaine and Latoya Jackson
  • Cosmo and Dibs from ‘You and Me’
  • Avon and Stringer from The Wire
  • Karl and Susan Kennedy from Neighbours
  • Harold and Lou from Neighbours
  • Toadfish and Stonefish. From Neighbours.

If anyone at BBC 2 wants to get in touch, I reckon I’d revolutionise your casting sessions. Email at the usual address.

Slumdog Millionaire

January 15, 2009

Hype, hype, bastard HYPE.

It’s not the fault of Danny Boyle or his talented young cast that Slumdog Millionaire has been so ridiculously overhyped this past couple of weeks. It’s the fault of journalists and TV magazine shows, all champing at the bit to speak with supposed expertise about a film they consider to be not only beautifully shot and acted (which it is), but also worthy. They think that by singing the praises of the film without questioning any aspect of it, they earn themselves kudos rather than cynicism from those of us who, having watched it and made our own minds up, have realised the film’s got a few problems in the process.

It doesn’t help, when wishing to watch with fresh eyes, that the movie has been endlessly trailed. You’ll have seen about three quarters of it, including pivotal moments, before you even enter the bloody picture house. You’ll know exactly what the first half’s about and you’ll have guessed the outcome of the second half if you’ve got even one lobe left in your grey matter after the endless barrage of praise that accompanies each plot-ruining clip featured on every current affairs or entertainment show going.

So I don’t need to run through the plot. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, you’ll have been told. What I can tell you is that, in my humble opinion, the first half is visually brilliant and depicts the life of the Mumbai slum-children sympathetically, if simplistically. The flashback scenes using children under the age of sixteen, speaking in their Hindi mother-tongue, are the best aspect to the movie. I wished it had stuck to format the moment the two male leads grew older and the dialogue snapped to English. As it did, the believability of the first half was binned in favour of an ill-advised take on magic realism that didn’t satisfy this here curmudgeon.

Reducing the sufffering of the characters to a fabricated Millionaire wish fulfilment conclusion just felt half-arsed. This was compounded by the fact that the love interest had barely a line in the whole film and we had no sense of who she was and how they had fallen for one another. All we’d seen them do was share a mattress, aged seven or eight.

Despite all that, the film’s worth a look for the visual aspect alone. The amazing opening half’s a seductive vision of a nightmare, paradoxically enough. Just don’t believe that it’s profound, feelgood, or deals sensitively with major issues. Because it doesn’t really do any of those things.

Golden Globes – Winslet’s Acceptance Speech

January 13, 2009

Did you see the clip above on the news yesterday?

It made my blood boil with impotent fury.

Acceptance speeches, along with awards shows, are meaningless idiot-parades. Winslet’s Golden Globe means as little to the public at large as the award I gave myself for washing up last night after I tackled a particularly challenging pot. Why should anyone care?

The most grating aspect of any acceptance speech is, of course, the fake-sincerity. And as far as that goes, Winslet delivers a belter. From the expression her face creases into as she walks to the stage (veering between death throes and hyperactive delight), to the squeals of forced delight as she hugs her wealthy husband on the way up.

Then she apologises to the other nominees, forgetting Jolie’s name in the process, hilariously, and everyone chuckles at just how normal she is. Streep looks on, so pleased for Kate, whilst Angelina grits her teeth and crushes Brad Pitt’s fragile hand between her thighs under the tablecloth.

As she tells herself to ‘gather’, twice and then reels off a pre-prepared list of thankyous, the thing that strikes you – and if you’ve ever watched an awards show before, it won’t be the first time – is the arrogant self-importance of it all. As though these awards, or the Oscars for that matter, actually carry any meaning. As if this film is worthwhile  simply because a panel of bores thinks it is, rather than the public who largely are yet to even see it.

By the time she’s thanking hair and makeup, you thank Christ she manages to stop herself short. But then she carries on and is licking the boots of Leonardo DiCaprio. Cut to Leo himself, lapping up the praise as a paid-for-patsy tugs him under the table.

In a final incestuous flourish, she thanks her husband (who directed the film)
and, by this point, the one fake tear she managed to prise out of dry tearducts has run down the length of her cheek, so she’s doing that Hollywood motion whereby sobs are produced without the presence of moisture so that it looks like the sobber themself is a mentally challenged toddler.

Can’t we make awards ceremonies less regular? Every five years maybe?

Quantum of Solace

December 4, 2008

Youtube clip nicked off Joe Cornish of Adam & Joe

The beginning of the new blonde Bond movie is dead exciting. People fall through roofs, Daniel Craig survives slow-mo explosions, a hot lady cracks a safe, planes crash, buildings explode, Judi Dench calls him a renegade – it’s a non-stop medley of action and drama and it is relentless!

Then the adverts end and Odeon have their inexplicable three minute lights up moment.

We’ve been in the cinema 20 minutes, the trailers haven’t even started and already we’ve seen the best bits of the film and heard the theme song numerous times. Make up. Drinks. Phones. Laptops. Televisions. This isn’t a movie, it’s an orgy of advertising – a quantum of synergy slowly destabilising the image of action heroes and brand association across the world.  “They have people everywhere.”

Movie begins; car crashes, rooftop chases and hundreds of extras all feature in a ballet of action – shot (as is the current trend) as if the camera were handled by five year old child with ADD. It seems insulting, employing all those stuntmen to perform daring acts of doing and then hiding them behind camera movements that look like they’re covering up budget defects, but I suppose that’s the style these days.

The plot revolves around an evil SPECTREesque alliance of bad guys called QUANTUM – which makes the title null and void since we were all told it refers to Bond trying to find moments of peace following the death of Eva Green in the last film. In fact, they actually forget about most things pretty early on with the potentially interesting idea of a faction of uber-villains operating without governmental knowledge being abandoned and instead focus on a very boring and sneery Frenchman who’s buying up land for some utterly pointless movie reason.

Remember when Casino Royale came out and a brave new beginning was announced? Daniel Craig was taking the character in a whole new direction and things were going to change, they said. Well that time was over pretty quickly – Quantum of Solace is a blueprint Bond film with all the trademark exploding buildings, casual fucking and overcomplicated plotting, except this time (because he’s, like, y’know, updated and everything) he feels guilty about most of it – which kind of steals all the fun out of the movie.

Pierce Brosnan’s reign of terror may be over and for that I’m thankful, but the producers are clearly terrified of abandoning the forumula that did them so well so they’ve made the same movie as always, except with some solemn faces and kudos casting. I give it one more film before they reintroduce Q as played by Ray Winstone and he’s flying around in invisible cars once again.

It’s a shame, because Casino Royale is a genuinely good film and it deserved a sequel that did it justice. All we have instead is a substandard Bond movie with all the crap nobody missed last time around put back in so it can be distinguished from the Bourne films. You get the feeling that they wrote the film around the product placements and required quota of action, employed a respected director with an indie-standing and then refused to let him do anything interesting lest the Bond brand be tarnished by deviation.

The opening says it all – a tough movie punching for realism while naked ladies dance in silhouette around Coke cans. Or was that the adverts again?

Twilight

November 24, 2008

If like me (until yesterday morning) you hadn’t already heard of this Twilight phenomenon, I’ll try and explain. I should also point out that I haven’t read any of the books (though we were given complimentary copies at the cinema), mainly because I read grown up books these days, or badly written books with vast amounts or gore in them.

Before the curtain was raised, someone from E1 films came out to give a little speech (this was half industry screening, half fan-base). He quoted amazing box office figures from America at which all the teenagers in the audience whooped. This movie has performed better than Harry Potter or Quantum of Solace and will no doubt be a huge success over here too – the cult of the ‘Twilighter’ is ready to kick off. It was bizarre, this self celebration – like the kids were cheering the suit’s economic nous rather than any artistic achievement. There were a lot of teenage girls in the room. And a lot of them cheered the figures, then cheered the names of all the actors. This is a serious cult that’s about to go overground.

The film opens like The OC crossed with Lost Boys. In fact, there are so many elements of the latter in the film’s opening few reels that to start comparing would take all day, listing the borrowed ingredients. Apart from that, there’s some interesting stuff concerning native Americans in the opening – the best character being Jacob who explains the background. Apparently a pact was made between the ‘wolf-tribe’ of the indigenous folks and the blood-suckers back in the day causing an uneasy truce between the two.

In practice, at one point this brings up the uneasy sight of the ultra-slick, white-yuppie, all-American vampire being hostile to the far better intentioned native American lad, which looks very awkward onscreen. Was this a comment on settled Americans agreeing to stem their blood-lust to live in harmony with red indian-folk, or was it a just a clunky bit of ill-thought through scripting?

Hard to tell. Maybe in the book these ideas are fleshed out more. As it is, the film is all about love, love love. It’s aimed at teenage girls, so in looking for a low certificate the film-makers go for heart-throb of the day, Robert Pattinson as male lead and half the film is his face filling the frame looking all moody and pale. His character, Edward Cullen has fallen for Bella Swan played by Kristen Stewart. Sadly, she is a human and he is a vampire. All boys are vampires. They only want one thing.

Given the writer, Stephanie Meyer’s Christian background, I think it’s fair to say that the heavy-handed allegory is one of abstinence. He tries his damnedest not to bite huge chunks of her flesh out throughout the film, suggesting this is a story about the dangers of getting too close. It’s not that huge a twist on the usual vampire tale. The fact the female in the equation doesn’t care about the danger and, in fact, urges him on, implies that this is the woman’s fault. Weird.

In fact, the vampire element is pretty much redundant, aside from a silly baseball scene where the players use their supernatural skills to play a beefed up version of the game. In the end, this is just a cautionary tale about virginity and teenage lust dressed up with an edgy, blood-sucking twist. The fact that these vampires can walk around in daylight adds to the misery – apparently they avoid direct sunlight because it makes their skin go all sparkly. Strange – I always thought it was because beams of sunlight made them crumble or melt into a slush of flesh and bone. Silly me.

What bothers most is that teenagers are lapping up the movie and its message because of its emo-lite soundtrack and hunky leading male. It’s such a straightforward story with all stereotypes intact that it doesn’t do anything for the genre and, like superheroes in Smallville and the rich-without-responsibility in Gossip Girl, it sacrifices its best and darkest asset for smoochy, pedestrian relationship tales, almost lowering it to the Mills and Boon-for-kids level of entertainment we’re largely sick of – but not quite. It’s still watchable trash.

To sum up, and without wishing to patronise:

If you enjoy Twilight, download, rent or steal Martin by George Romero. It says a hell of a lot more than this mildly entertaining but ultimately throwaway stuff does. Failing that, The Lost Boys has got a proper cool bit with a vampire, a bath and shitloads of holy water in it. Death by stereo!