Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jan 2013's Film List


I'm having a month off. I'm going to do some reading....

I lasted till the 11th, when Family Friday Pizza And Movie Night kicked off with:

  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood ( 1938 ) - jolly fun which had the kids leaping about at the end recreating some of the 'great sword fighting bits' and generally behaving like I remember kids behaving at the ABC Minors Saturday morning matinees.
  2. Frankenweenie (2012) - and on the 12th we drive 90 miles to a real Saturday matinee. An autism friendly screening which, after an initial panic, went down well. The film was the usual Tim Burton, Gothic Cute disappointment too overly-stuffed with visual references for its own good. The highlight for me was Martin Landau's science teacher. A great part, with a message that Burton though so important that he stopped Danny Elfman from putting any music under parts of it. One of the few moments in the film that weren't underscored with full throttle orchestral accompaniment. Meh.

  3. Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) - that was fun.

  4. The Wayward Cloud (aka 天边一朵云 2005) - Arty Taiwanese porn musical with a lot of water-melons which included one never-to-be-forgotten dance routine set in a public toilets. Our hero was dressed as a giant penis surrounded by a hundred girls with sink plungers glued to their tits. Not something you see every day.

  5. Soldier ( 1998 ) - a Paul W.S. Anderson film based on a screen play by David Webb Peoples. So, one of my least favourite directors working from a script by a writer for whom I have some respect. The script won. Just. The basic story is: trained-from-birth, emotionless, killing-machine soldier is discarded when superior replacement arrive. He's dumped, meets a colony of peaceful types and learns there's more to life than 'Fear and Discipline'. Kurt Russell is simply terrific as the soldier. He hardly moves a face muscle for the whole film and gets about 50 words of dialogue and is utterly compelling. He makes an emotional journey of millimetres but it is riveting to watch. Anderson however tried his best to sink the film with the usual bucketloads of ultra-violence, culminating in the inevitable fistfight and over-use of gimmicky double-framing (printing each frame of film twice to give an 'edgy' pseudo slo-mo effect). He's also guilty of letting the art directors (who were obviously having fun) fill their future intergalactic junk-yard planet with all sorts of crap it wouldn't have made any sense to ship off-world. 1950s aeroplanes, boats, and, at one particularly throw-things-at-the-screen moment, a yellow school bus. Who, or what, or why thought; "I know, it's the future, school buses will be obsolete so it'll make sense for them to be shoved in spaceships and flown out to an uninhabited planet and then dropped into a pile?" This is dead pure, lazy, stupid Hollywood stupid bullshit stupidity. The same kind of stupidity (and this is a major fault in the script) that makes, out of the entire galaxy, the new recruits training exercise just happen to take place within yards of the one man who has good reason to resent their presence - and THEN has the idiocy to have the bad guy say, "By the way if you happen to see anyone down there," (i.e. the nice peaceful community of stranded refugees who have shown compassion and understanding to our battle-scarred emotional wasteland of a 'hero') "Then consider them hostile and kill them on sight." Oh no! Men, women and cute children in peril! What is our hero to do? This is just crap. Really stupidly stupid crap too because it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to establish that the bad guys have come to that particular place for a real reason, not by Hollywood bullshit accident. The stranded refugees have, after all, been trying get someone's (anyone's!) attention for years. Just retool the plot slightly - a couple of sentences would do it: The 'bad' guys have come to investigate reported sightings on an uninhabited planet. One of the refugees panics and opens fire. The soldiers respond. Death and mayhem. The potential for real tragedy is so easy. There; fucking big plot WTF? solved. Thank you. My bill will be in the post as soon as a remake is announced.

  6. Intervista (1987) - which I only watched to find out how to pronounce 'Cinnecità', fully intending to switch it off after I had found out. I ended up watching the whole thing. Damn you, Sr. Fellini! I cried during the scene where Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg watch their younger selves in a clip from La Dolce Vita.

  7. Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) - dated melodrama full of 'women's films' stock characters: the Driven Husband (his Dream, capital D, makes him blind to all else...), the Noble Wife (she goes literally blind - oh the irony! - and leaves him without letting him know, so her Driven Husband's Dream, capital D, can go on...), a Beautiful Socialite Heiress (secretly in love with the unattainable Driven Husband, but driven to sell herself to the Unspeakable Cad who can finance the Driven Husband's Dream), the Driven Husband's Best Friend (secretly in love with the Driven Husband's Noble Wife but puts his all into making the Driven Husband's Dream come true - because that's what the Driven Husband's Noble Wife wants) all set in an Art Deco future with television conferencing, autogyros, streamlined cars and huge 'radium drills' that can bore through the hearts of volcanoes. None of it made much sense if you thought about it for more than a few moments but it looked good, and the actors earnestly delivered their trite lines with good-old, 1930's British stoicism. Not a totally wasted 90 minutes. Certainly less wasted than the 90 minutes I spent watching:

  8. Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990 ish) - dumb, cliché-ridden piece of 'monster on the lose in confined space' crap with one vaguely novel idea (buried in the laboriously explained back-story), and one nice, simple piece of set design (which, very cheaply, transformed the main location's endless, boring corridor into a slightly futuristic endless, boring corridor). The monster looked even more like a penis with teeth than usual, and the acting was dreadful. I know it's easy to say, 'oh man, the acting was, like - so bad!" but the standard here really was not good, not good at all, even by schlock standards. For many members of the cast this was their only screen credit. (For which, much thanks.)

  9. The Devil Rides Out (1968 ) - workmanlike Hammer horror with Charles Grey having great fun stealing everything that wasn't nailed down as the villain. I had fun spotting that Peter Swanwick (the baldy bloke in the control room in The Prisoner) was one of the Satanists. The whole show was marred for me though by a very coppy-outy ending.
So, 9 films. Not bad for a month in which I was determined not to watch even one.... Next month. All bets are off.


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