Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Paradise...a review of The Beach

What do we do when we wake? Groan? Yawn? Swear? Keep one eye on the sky (as anyone who has ever seen Reign of Fire should know). Well this morning I heard my door open and I replied "Rio Bravo". Because it's been written on my hand since Sunday, just above the words "Remember Sammie Jenkins" just so I can't possibly forget that it's on today.

My desire to see this film came at precicely the same moment as my unconditional and irrational admiration for Quentin Tarantino. He was quoted in Empire speaking about this film: "When I'm getting serious with a girl, I show her Rio Bravo, and she better ****ing like it"

He most definitely has his priorities in the right order.

Anyway, if that's not enough to inspire curiosity, I don't know what is. Anyway, I spent an entire day of mustnotforgetmustnotforget and then guess what happened? Missed it. By half an hour. I was furious, absolutely vase-smashingly irritated. So rather cross at missing my classic (it's also on the Total Film top 100 list, and considering a different friend than the one in the next paragraph has somehow seen twice as many as me and still thinks that Van Helsing wasn't so bad I really need to catch up! [PS, dude if you're reading, no offence right?]) I sat down rather apprehensively to watch this=

The Beach

A thrill seeking, dope-smoking backpacker on the search for experience discovers the heart of darkness in the guise of paradise. My, didn't that sound catchy!

So on the face of it this seemed like a recipie for disaster. A book I liked as a film - nay, a book I was positive couldn't be adapted, into a movie starring Leonardo diCaprio. Oh my. What a hell. But I have pursuasive friends and difficulty refusing people anything, and so rather grudgingly I agreed to borrow the dvd.

And thank God for that!

Absolutely fantastic! I mean, if you have or ever do read the book, you'll see what I mean - it's a first person narration of a meandering plot, lots of psyched out stuff and yet somehow it actually worked on screen. They stayed perfectly true to the tone of the novel, even if not entirely to the plot.

The cinematography was inventive and pretty - the shots of the beach. The speeded-up camera sunset. The glowing prawns underwater. The colours in the evening, in Bankok, on the Beach, in the jungle - all perfect and a joy to watch.

I also think the music was excellent. I didn't like it - I would have no desire, for example, to buy the album. But in the context of the film it was perfect - unintrusive, yet unsettling.

And what about the doped-up, Vietnam-guilt, (there's a lot about Vietnam in the book, not quite so much in the film, or at least not as obviously - though I was amused to note they're watching Apocalypse Now in the lobby before cutting to a shot of our Richard on his bed beneath a spinning fan) bloodsoaked flashbacks and general surreality? All present and correct. Shocked? Well I was. Particular mention must go to the scene when our hero is transmorphed into the hero of a tacky gameboy game. Excellent!

In the book there's an awful lot more of Daffy - I understand why there had to be less in the film, but it was still a shame. He's pretty ace though, with the limited time he had. As I've said, I had my doubts about Leo diC, and they're still not entirely shaken. I'll admit he can act, and act well - and in certain lights he's even good looking. But (and it's a big but, like mine) as soon as the lad opens his mouth...monotone. 'Tis a shame, because they give him a voiceover and he does have some interesting things to say, it's just irritating to listen to.

The only thing I think could have been improved (and the friend who lent me the DVD is about to disagree with me very loudly) was Tilda Swinton's role. Now she's good in Constantine, absolutely great in fact. But she puts virtually the same saintly-but-scornful performance in here, and it just doesn't work. Nothing I can add to that statement, really. Just wasn't... convincing.

I also prefered the "alternate ending" on the dvd to the actual one. Isn't odd how in films, everyone remembers precicely what everyone else said? Like in Godfather Part II, when Kay parrots back exactly the same thing to Michael about the family turning legitimate as he said in Part I and then comments that that was five years ago. Sure, perhaps it stuck in her memory as vitally important, but I don't think so. And I certainly don't think Francoise would have remembered the "parallel universe" thing. And this goes for every other film which utilises this annoying quirk.

And things learnt from this film? I will NEVER judge a movie by its cover ever again.

I went into town today to protest at the police that they hadn't recovered my dvd yet. I also popped into the library, where they have a nice classic-movie rental shelf. They can be borrowed by 18+ people only, but luckily I'd dragged my father along too and he let took Casablanca out for me. I'll watch it in a few days, it'd better be good. I'll lose all faith if it's another Vertigo experience...

While there I visited Oxfam. I always go when I'm in town, to check if anyone's donated interesting records, look lovingly at the trash on the video shelf and buy a bar of fair trade dark chocolate. Today I found a fun game. It was only £3, it was practically unopened and, as I said, it was in Oxfam so the money was going to a good cause. It's called Screen Play, and it's the type of thing our family plays all the time - two teams, miming words on cards. And plus, it's a subject I can win at! The mime-a-movie charades look pretty easy, but somehow I think trying to guess Warner Herzog in under a minute may prove tricky. I mean, how would you mime Warner Herzog? The only thing I know about him is that he chased his actors back on set with a gun when they went on strike. How about Claude Chabrol? I mean, I've heard of him but apart from that...those are the odd few impossible ones however, and I'm sure that "name a film with the word Red in it" and it's ilk will be simpler.


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