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

Looking forward to the summer!

Lets start with the worst news. Every year a local company sponsor a massiveo screen at the beach, and show stuff like Top Gun, Grease and Dirty Dancing. First year they did Jaws. Second year, they let the general public vote. Utter Disneyfest, not that I have anything against Disney, but still. In the words of Gene Hackman in Runaway Jury, "trials are too important to be decided by jurys". This year they've outdone themselves - a drive in! With free popcorn! Forbidden Planet, please? The bad news is, they're allowing votes again. The good news is I'm on holiday. All that remains is for me to go on record saying the Disney MGM Studios "sci-fi drive-in" is one of the greatest restaurants in the world.

Friend 3 was showing off her Total Film trailer's DVD (I really must change my subscription and alliegance to Total Film; they're making waves! Mind you, Empire's "movie history" articles still cannot be beat. Last month they did one on the Indianapolis, and believe me the description in Jaws was a picnic compared.) Here's a roundup of what we watched.

The Dark Knight

If I told you I had mentioned an upcoming film beaming, and got a violently excited response from every other girl in the room, chances are you wouldn't be thinking Batman. Garn, I love my buddies sometimes! Friend 5 loves Christian Bale and the first movie. Friend 3 can get enthusiastic about almost anything, but she's an especial sucker for superhero movies. Friend 4 has just go into Smallville, for typically for villain Lex Luthor. And I've been a-reading the Batman graphic novels as quickly as the local library can provide them. First "the Dark Knight Returns" - Batman does middle age, grim, miserable and brilliant. And then "Hush", which is typical bulging muscles and battling monsters stuff, but who knew it could be so exciting when the art is that awesome? And next, whatever I can find. As for the trailer, I'm excited by the little things. I remember quite how much I loved Gary Oldman in the other film, for example. And Michael Caine's back! And Morgan Freeman, but mostly Michael Caine who's wonderful in everything. Nice to see the actor formerly known as Richard Alpert from Lost in there. The Joker? Well, he's jolly scary in "Dark Knight Returns". I'll have to get used to the voice, but his look is great and the laugh insanely wonderful.

Narnia 2:

The Narnia books were never afraid to be dark. Ultimately, Susan stops believing in all that childishness - later books figure only three of the Pevensies. Aslan gets killed in the second book - he comes back, but its still brutal. And in Prince Caspian, they return only to discover that 1300 years have passed and everyone they know is dead and gone. Happens in the Silver Chair as well - Eustace arrives in time to see the funeral of the same dead King Caspian this movie is about. So when they say this movie will be "darker", and don't they always, I believe them. Still, its depressing to see the trailer taking such obvious beats from the Lord of the Rings trailers. Slow the music. Boom. Boom. Boom. Quote. Music rise! Ugh...apart from the cliched cutting, looks like more of the same, which is exciting if you enjoyed the first one as I did, and not if you didn't. Incidentally, one insight you get by watching trailers with girl friends is the relative strokability of the actors. Ad while I'm still the only person who thought elder-Tristran's-dad from Stardust was more attractive than the younger addition, we are united in finding Prince Caspian far hotter than he ever was in the books. Despite this, I'm not excited to hear the actor has been cast as Dorian Gray in the movie, because no film could ever live up to my beautiful book.

Speed Racer

I made them watch the trailer. I gushed. Did I tell you Speed Racer was great? Totally, totally great?

Funny Games

With a little trepidation, I asked if we could watch the trailer for Funny Games. Nervously, because I hardly want to increase my reputation with my friends as an ultra-violence addict, especially with Friend 5 (who prefaces all her movie recommendations for me with "...and its really violent". I suppose it's fair enough on her part, because she doesn't seem to watch anything without 26 twists minimum. This comment was justified ten minutes later when she recommended Pushing Dasies by adding that the murder scenes were "really gruesome", and then returned the film I had lent her last week, mind-frak-fest The Game)

But I am drooling, absolutely drooling to see Funny Games. Either of them. The story goes like this. Michael Haneke makes a violent film all about the connection between media and violence, a satire on the genre; a dig at the people who get kicks from seeing it on screen. But being a foreign film, it only got a limited distribution; and completely missed the American slasher-movie audience on which it was intended to comment. And thus a remake - with a virtual translation of the script, and an almost shot for shot reshoot. Only this time it had Tim Roth and Naomi Watts in it. No, that's not why I want to see it. It's honestly just an added bonus. I said I'd watch either, didn't I? I'd be interested to see both.

In actual fact, the reason I feel so strongly about this movie is because deep down, I know I'm not gonna see it. Too chicken. Which considering my favourite movies, my back-catalogue of reviews and previous enthusiasm to jump head first into kroovyfests might seem a tad hypocritical. But I've seen Cache. And it's along way from Korean hyperdirection, American horror calculated to make megabucks or even trammeled up in the rules of the genre, as gangster or war movies are. Haneke's style can best be described as "absent direction" - so realistic, it mayaswell be a bystander with a video cam. And its in the home. Even Clockwork Orange's "Home" was set in an arthouse future.

My English teacher claims Hamlet has something to say on every topic. And even if Wikipedia claims that "the graphic violence is mostly off screen", Hamlet he say "There is nothing either bad nor good but thinking makes it so", and believe me I'm a thinker.

Which sucks, because it's not a certain Monsieur Roth that makes me want to see it, nor the bloodletting, but Haneke's effort to make a comment about the link between real and screen violence, a topic which I will admit an obsession; torture porn making a comment about the danger of torture porn.

The trailer was a bit derivative. Even though the remake came after Saw, the original on which it is slavishly based came before - yet I can't help thinking the trailer is squarely aimed at those very people Haneke is criticising, especially with the phrase "shall we begin?". Very Saw-y. There's also a Mr Kubrick on the phone for you, from beyond the grave, complaining about the debt it owes the the Clockwork Orange trailer, from the use of classical music to the flashing orange words, so much so I was expecting "Beethoven" to flash up any minute. But doesn't Tim Roth look good? Actorwise, not in terms of looks, not any more alas. Friend 3 adds that one or both of the creepy blonde guys is attractive, and she really likes the dog. I've a nasty feeling something unpleasant has to happen to it. I'm excited about the use of the white colour scheme too, already. And despite the fact the trailer gave me nightmares - yes, really - I really, really, really want to see this film.

Prom Night

More hypocracy - after putting them through 3 minutes of Funny Games, I felt slightly bad positively declaring I wouldn't see this even if paid. I think they agreed - Friend 5 said she'd watch it with us, but we'd probably tear chunks out of it if we did. We were all united in playing spot the actress - Brittany Snow from Hairspray! The girl who plays Monica off Heroes! I was more excited by seeing the guy who plays vampire-hunting Vaugn in Ultraviolet the TV-series in almost the same role here, stalking down corridors with torches and mobile phones, in a neat suit and wearing a gun holster, grimly intoning about great danger. Oh how have the mighty fallen.

Incidentally, our "prom" is coming up. I almost despaired of finding a dress - I threatened to go in a suit and ruffles to save the trouble - before absolutely, positively finding my dream outfit - a one off in the island, reduced in the sale, in a really bizarre shop that usually sells oldladyclothes, in my size. Unbelieveable. Such a lucky find that I can only believe a) the cute jock who's never noticed me will kiss me at midnight as the credits roll or b) an axewileding maniac intends to attend.

Other things coming for the summer?
  • I could not be less excited about The Incredible Hulk. I was, briefly, when I heard the official guff about it being, you guessed, darker and more thoughtful than the original - a reboot of the series. But the trailer dissuaded me entirely. Whats the point of casting two of our great actors, Ed Norton and Tim Roth, only to turn them into CGI at the first oppertunity?
  • I will be seeing the X-files movie, because Friend 3 is an X-F nut and she's frothing about it like I would be if, say, Redford and Newman had got their act together for a final movie together, or QT finally got around to the Vega brothers movie.
  • I might do The Mummy 3. The Mummy is a genuine unsung gem - the script is good, witty and scary in all the right ways, and the characters are all loads of fun. The worst you can say about the Mummy 2 is more of the same. So maybe, if the reviews look OK, I'll go see.
  • Tropic Thunder - frat pack as actors stuck in a war zone - looks like a riot, so if the critics smile that'll be another one.
  • Friend 4 and I have made a deal, that if one of us goes to see Brideshead: the movie, in 3D smellovision! the other will go with. I'm hoping it doesn't come to the local cinema.
  • Am I excited about A Quantum of Solace? Meh. I like the title, and I think Amy Winehouse is an inspired choice for the song. But Bond's bond, and I know what to expect.
  • The same goes for the inspiringly titled Harry Potter 6.
  • Did I forget the Hobbit? Its barely a summer movie, we've still got to wait two years, but hell am I excited about that! Not happy with the recurrent rumour that James MacAvoy will be playing Bilbo. He should be stout and bumbling, not elfin and, frankly, hot. Frodo was fare game; but its not cool to have a crush on Bilbo Baggins. Uglier actor please.
  • Why am I forgetting all the films I'm excited for in the rush to complain about the ones I'm not? The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan's film about the same old things, is coming out on the 13th of June. Hell, it's got Mark Walburg in, who I loved in The Departed, and as per usual James Newton Howard is doing the music, which means if nothing else it'll sound nice. I know this doesn't sound much like excitement, but this movie aint going to change his reputation as the purveyor of creepy mysteries plaguing ordinary American families any time soon. My prediction: if you liked Signs, you'll love this. Signs is my second favourite movie. I can't wait. I'm also amused by "Writer and Director of the Sixth Sense", because he HATES people putting that on his trailers. He stopped them doing it for Signs, but it didn't last long...
  • Youth Without Youth is out on DVD. We can be thankful for small mercies.

OK, so I'm demoralised that the Doctor Who finale is still the most exciting screen experience on the horizon, but big summer movies haven't been exciting since Jaws, and it invented the idea.

So. Are you looking forward to ANYTHING this summer?

PS - had an argument with Friend 1 about the cinema as a good place for a date. Says something about our opinions of dates. But mostly cinema. I said yes, because you don't have to talk for two hours, and then after than you've got an automatic conversation starter. She said yes, because it's dark and, y'know, you don't go on a cinema date to watch the film...I want it on the record that the first boyfriend that tries that gets dumped, instantly. Same for any who kindly attempt to take me to a "date movie". Not that either of those are a problem at the moment. Johnathan Rhys Meyers quipped that all the guys who took girls to see Fight Club probably never got a second date, but if you ask me...


Rob said...

I almost took a girl to Pink Flamingos once, before I started having flashbacks to Travis' date in Taxi Driver.

I've only seen the original Funny Games and, as much as I like Roth and Watts, they would not be able to do a better job than the first couple. For starters, the father was played by the brilliant Ulrich Muhe, who passed away last year. Secondly, the lead couple were actually married in real life.

Now, I'm not one to comment on Haneke's choices, but that is just messed up.

It really is a very good movie, though not for the faint of heart. There is no release, no drop in tension and it doesn't pull any punches. It's unpleasant, but wonderfully stylish.

It's not graphic violence, but more the overwhelming nature of the movie that's affecting. I think it'd be worth checking out, you'll know if you're going to make it by the 30 minute mark. It's a polarizing film, but one worth seeing.

Ninquelosse said...

Ah, but that's the test isn't it. Take a girl to see Pink Flamingos - if she walks out, she isn't worth it. If she likes, you know you've got a friend for life.

Thanks for the advice - you've made me want to see it even more and even less in about equal measure. I guess I'll leave it to chance, pick it up if I ever see it, but not go actively hunting. And Ulrich Muhe was ace in Lives of Others (please tell me I'm not mixing my German actors up...)

Rob said...

Haha, I found out later that she'd seen, and liked, it before. Who knows what could have been?

That's the one. He seems to do his best work under less than fortunate circumstances. During the filming of The Lives of Others, he was fully aware of the cancer he had, but kept it a secret from his family until his final days.

There are more disturbing films than Funny Games out there, but I can see that one setting people off. It's just so personal and unsettling. My recommendation of the situation; watch Eraserhead. All will make sense then....

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