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

In defence of my top 12 - part 7, you guessed it...

In the absence of anything better to write about (haven't seen anything for...oh, too long) I thought I'd tidy up the next in my series of favourite films. As if you haven't heard enough about this one in the last few weeks...sorry...

In other news, I got summat published in the local paper! Well, mostly. I reviewed Inconvenient Truth because it suggested I do so in the credits, and I'm not in a position to buy a more energy efficient car or plant a tree. They've accepted it, and hopefully it'll be published before the local cinema club shows it in a few weeks time.

And finally, I'm doing a talk on conspiracy theories at the end of the week, which means I should really be revising my speech instead of typing. But my three most highly recommended conspiracy movies are:

JFK - the conspiracy that started conspiracies. Realistic, but very exciting. And stunningly edited.
Capricorn 1 - The 60's created the spy movie and the paranoid thriller. I think. Mostly. Anyway, this is a genu-ine 60's film about faking the Mars landings. Serious and almost tense.
Wag the Dog - the administration creates a fictional war to cover up the president's mishap days before the election. Expect lines like "the CIA cancelled our war!" and a hilariously familiar song entitled "The American Dream". It's such an amusing song, I can still remember the tune, since howevermany years. A wonderful satire on the media...

And now, here are even more of my unwanted opinions on...

7 Reservoir Dogs
A set of total strangers team up to rob a jewellry store. It goes horribly wrong. This is the story of what happens next...(and also before, due to the peverse chronology)

If I said the words “genuinely touching”, RD probably wouldn’t be the first film to come to mind. Yet…it actually is. Famous for its violence (which actually is nowhere near as bad as you’ve been lead to believe), the beautiful and affecting moments are almost universally overlooked. No one warned me about the pure humanity sneaking around between the swearing and bloodshed. But before I shatter the world with this shocking opinion, lets take a look at the obvious comments.

I gasped the first time I saw this set. Wowie!This is one of the easiest films I’ve ever watched. Scenes move seamlessly from one to another (take the beginning sequence – the breakfast conversation, broken up by a DJ who introduces the tune for the cheery credit sequence, interrupted by screams under the black screen. Absolutely mesmerising.) The whole thing is constructed with a throwaway care, which feels perfectly natural.

The chronology leaps from the messy aftermath to the meticulous planning, never quite dropping in on the robbery that went so badly wrong. This serves a double purpose. It blends the action and vibrancy 0f the pre-heist scenes with the talking and tension of the stuff in the warehouse. But a cleverer consideration: it keeps us on the level of the characters. Consider when Messrs White and Pink are discussing what went wrong. They disagree about the order of the alarm, the shooting and the police arriving. Their confusion is infectious, because as we weren’t shown the truth, we can’t correct them. They think there’s a rat in the house. Eddie doesn’t. Is there? And if so, who? We don’t know! We only learn details as they see fit to discuss them (Where’s Mr Blue?), and if they don’t bring things up we’re left without answers (Mr Orange’s ring?!). And on the odd occasion we do know more than the characters, it seriously enhances our interpretation of the scene – you can’t help but wince at the upsetting irony ladled under lines like “you’re not going to get hurt” when delivered in flashback, once you already know that...

Hardly what I’d call a tidy film (c.f. Signs), but the fact it’s fraying at the edges is part of its charm. The atmosphere is so raw – you feel literally, anything can happen. Not that I want to compare it, but you can tell PF has had buckets of thought behind it its construction – RD is so casual it could spiral out of control at any time.

And out of control means violence. “Gratuitous” and “unnecessary” are two words often applied to the bloodshed, presumably by people who’ve never seen Kill Bill (makes RDs look more like Clifford the Big Red Dog). I disagree with both descriptions. Especially as gratuitous kinda means the same thing as unnecessary anyway. A better description would be “realistic”. These are nasty people, they do nasty things and nasty things happen to them. It just wouldn’t be the same with a 12A certificate. For one thing, they’d have to chop the swearing, which is constant, but forgivable, with a rhythm of its own.

Everyone always raves about the music, and it’s worth a mention. The tunes are certainly catchy, and transform what could have just been a gritty and unpleasant crime drama into…a gritty, unpleasant and FUN crime romp. It reminds you it’s ok to laugh. Lots of films forget that real life is actually very funny; this one has stacks of amusing lines. The film is even narrated by the radio DJ, breaking up the action to introduce the next track. Usually, this is dubbed over for the audience's ears only - and it's a great moment when you finally hear his voice enter the movie world, introducing the little-known-not-at-all-infamous ditty Stuck in the Middle with You.
Mr Blonde- model citizen, churchgoer and primary school teacher. Hang on a minute...sorry, wrong crib notes...
What have I forgotten? The acting. They’re all great. I love them all. Nuff said.

At the end of the day, this is that rarest of things: a brilliantly well made film which is brilliant fun to watch. Except from babysitting toddlers and entertaining mature relations, there are very few occasions when it can’t be enjoyed. If you’re sad it’ll cheer you up, if you’re angry you can get vicious satisfaction from the murderin’ and if you’re feeling sentimental…well, remember the “genuinely touching” thing?

Because at the end of the day, it all comes crumbling down because none of them know each other. It’s suspicion and distrust that causes the trouble (you mark my words!), and out of the middle of all of that comes a genuine split second friendship which just changes everything...

(Incidentally 1, I’m gonna sound like the biggest hypocrite in the universe here, but I can only think of a single plot detail which would significantly spoil your enjoyment of this film. I was pretty clued up on what was gonna happen and when, and it made very little difference whatsoever.)
(Incidentally 2, as goes City on Fire, I haven’t seen it and I don’t care. The fab-ness cast alone should justify forgetting this whole mess, even if you don’t forgive the plot pilferage. It’s them, and the audacious editing I like as much as the plot…and plus, no Little Green Bag!)
(Incidentally 3, as a girl it's a great film to have up my sleeve, just to suprise/impress/alarm people. It's percieved as such a male thing...)

Sum up the film in a moment: yeh, it does have to be the whole Stuck in the Middle with You thing. Arbitrary violence, coupled with a great tune and some very misplaced and bad taste humour. "Did you ever listen to K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70s...?" The great (well, disturbing but clever) thing about the use of the catchy music is, just for a moment, you forget whose side you're meant to be on.
Best scene: Agh, three or four faves, but ten minutes and one character in common…I’ll go for Mr O leaving the house, to the encouraging coos of “he’s a foo-ool” from the radio. Not much talking (it is, after all, just one guy in a room) but the silence makes the scene. Doesn’t matter how many times I sit through it, I’m always willing him to pussy out…
Best line: Ye gods…er, this is pretty tricky. I could probably get it down to a shortlist of about…30, give or take about…30. My fave at the moment is Mr White’s delivery of “ha-di-f*ing-ha”, but it’s bound to change. Actually, it's probably "I told you I ain't talked to him! All I know is he's pissed!".
Favourite character: Mr a total whisker, followed by whoever's talking. Seriously, very few films have characters with a 8-way tie on my affections. Serenity, perhaps. I love the Firefly crew equally. I know Mr O is pretty unpopular, but my heart breaks for him every time. Plus, he has better taste in films ("I'm trying to watch The Lost Boys!") than most of my friends...that particular film will feature in a later edition...
Special mention: The on-set paramedic charged with keeping one of cinema's lengthiest deaths on the right side of realistic.
Nerdy observation: we never learn "the professional" Mr Pink's real name; The only civillian killed on screen gets killed by the police. And she's pregnant; an aquaintance on the imdb board thinks the duration of the sequence in the warehouse can only be about an hour real time, but I think it's much nearer 45 minutes; in the opening scene, Mr W flicks a sweet wrapper at Mr Pink with his spoon. I just think that's cute
Best watched: for the second time.

Finally: a thought on the auteur theory. Perhaps you've reached auteurdom when it's physically impossible to discuss one film without referencing one of your others?

PS, well done Rob for getting the movie...


Rob said...

Awww shucks. Thanks

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