Monthly Archives: April 2013

The House at the End of the Street

In The House at the End of the Street Katniss Everdeen tries to do sex with the slightly creepy boy next door, but can’t because his sister, who killed his parents is still lurking in the woods. Importantly the house at the end of the street is actually just the house next door, but some film which somehow managed to get lower ratings than this one beat them to that name. So the film I guess is not especially scary, but its not the worst I have seen, and I managed to not guess the twist, I didn’t feel like I had wasted my time. It makes one unforgivable mistake of making you think it might actually be about society and its reaction to those who go through trauma, before actually confirming that it in fact doesn’t give a crap. What is more important though is that it reveals that Katniss, sorry Jennifer Lawrence, was playing the very same character just before Hunger Games came along (this was shot in 2010). It will be interesting to see if she eventually plays some sort of belligerent asshole character with the same aplomb, or whether there is only one string to her bow…see what I did there…because she was good at archery in Hunger Games…oh never mind…

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Funny Ha Ha

I had to watch Funny Ha Ha in two sittings. Because I fell asleep. That is to say – this film is pretty boring. The poster promises that it is “Slackers for the 21st Century”. Presumably this is supposed to be a good thing given that it made it onto the poster, I just think its been cunningly edited from the original quote “Slackers for the 21st Century – In that it is equally boring”. Lets not get confused, this isn’t a bad film, it is well observed, so well in fact that it is as boring as real life was in the 90’s even though it took two years to make it to the big screen, largely well acted, though a little forced at times, and clearly a lot of care was taken to make it so boring. Another quote from the poster says that the film “dares to show real life as it is really lived…”. Sounds mildly experimental, like maybe that film Hockney did where he just filmed the sky or something for twenty four hours, but the reality of it is this, I am living my life, and its quite interesting, I certainly only fall asleep during the boring bits (usually night time, or the 90’s but even then sometimes that was exciting enough not to fall asleep) and if I distilled it into an hour and a half it would easily be exciting enough to keep even the most attention deficient person occupied – even if we just edited together the sex scenes. OK I am being unfair. A couple of the scenes really endeared me to it, and I did do a couple of inside giggles, (as a tribute I will write the rest of this as if I am writing dialogue for the film) these …um…yeah are laughs, umm..right… which…um…ok… are not quite strong enough, tooooo like, um….bubble to the surface and, you see …um…result in actual sound..ok…but…um….ok I think…um…but they are still a nice feeling to have….right….um maybe even…um nicer in that they ….are…I dunno….um … like… are entirely internal.

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Rubber

Rubber might well be the greatest film ever made, not that I would know because I was slightly drunk when I watched it, and everyone knows that much like where the opposite sex is concerned – a few drinks before a film can make a big difference to your perception. The point is though is that Rubber sounds like the perfect film to watch with some friends whilst you have a few beers – its about a tyre which becomes self aware and goes on a killing spree. This on the face of it sounds bloody fantastic. It certainly is bloody, there are body parts all over the shop, fantastic though, it is not. The problem is this: the tyre rolling around becoming self aware and doing some bloody good murdering makes up only about 20% of the film, the rest of it is filled up with meta nonsense about the nature of spectatorship or something. Rubber is trying desperately hard to be intelligent, that attempting this through the rubric of what I am now going to coin as the “goodyear bloodlust” genre (one feels that the genre has legs for sure, and that by next summer we’ll be swimming in killer tyre movies, potentially with spin of merchandise) is so blindinly ironic is presumably just one of the many points that the film makers are trying to make. I wont elucidate on the other points they are potentially trying to make, suffice to say they are numerous and unresolved – despite some of them being repeated with such vigour that you wonder really if it might have been better as a peice of performance art. I may re-watch this film one day without beer goggles, on that day I might write about how a film changed my whole world view, alternatively, and to return to my earlier metaphore, it might be like waking up after a boozy night out and wondering quite how the person in bed with you got there.

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Chinatown

I have done a comprehensive survey of all the male characters in Chinatown and there are precisely four (five if you count ones who die) who do not reveal themselves to be at least partially terrible. Given that there are many more than four males in this film this is worrying. I am going to assume everyone in the world has seen Chinatown, and will discuss it now as such – so if you have not this will almost certainly ruin it for you. Now, the film is at least partially about how Jake, who, traumatized by his once failure to protect a woman on his old Chinatown beat attempts to stop history repeating itself and save the woman he loves. I say loves, what he actually does is has a quick tumble then packs her off to Mexico, given that the film is inherently sexist I am going to read this as a simulacrum for love. Unfortunately it all goes tits up and she gets shot through the eyeball. Jack, sorry, Jake, is told -“Go home Jake, I’m doing you a favor”. What the bent copper is telling him that he cannot change the balance of power, that Noah Cross will do as he pleases with the water and the land and it is simpler just to accept this and get on with other things. Its frankly, a bloody terrible end to a film. So we return to the ridiculously small percentage of good male characters in the film (I’m not counting Jake as good, for reasons which will become obvious). Because the least of Noah Cross’ crimes are his land/water schemes the whole thing becomes inextricably tied up in mens treatment of women. Jake desperately attempts to change, marked by his consistent catching of his own bad language when he is around Evelyn – but ultimately he cannot protect her. As he is told that he cannot change the way the way Chinatown operates, he is also told he cannot change the way men operate, and it turns out men operate in a mode known as asshole. So there you have it, Chinatown is all about male chauvinism and how all attempts to change it will fail. Theres hegemony in the water in 70’s L.A.

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Headhunters

Headhunters is a film where a guys face gets totally smashed in, I mean entirely, and a dog has a nasty encounter with some agricultural equipment. So, if like me you like face smashery and dog skewery this is the film for you. Ok thats a bit unfair, on me, not the film. No ones face actually gets smasherooed and no animals were harmed during the making of the film, I checked see – interestingly the film makes a point in the credits that no animals were harmed, so one more assumed that no human beings were – though I suppose one cannot be absolutely sure. Its fair on the film because it entirely revels in its blunt-ness, to the extent it becomes morbidly amusing – amongst other things this is very much the blackest of comedies. Ultimately Headhunters is about a man who is a major asshole, who goes through rather a lot and comes out the other end a reformed character. That makes it sound a bit dull though and like some sort of morality tale, which is very much isn’t – because a dog dies. What makes Headhunters good is that it is one of those films where the protagonist gets themselves into a situation where you have absolutely no idea how they could escape from – I wont tell you if he manages it or not – but suffice to say it is a very stylish movie, a sort of Norwegian version American Psycho, but with a completely different plot. OK it isn’t that similar at all, but it looks great, is fast paced and very exciting and if you don’t mind a little face smashalashing then its the perfect choice.

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Into the Wild

What really shines through Into the Wild is how much the people involved in making it cared that they did the story justice. This might be down to the film at least in part memorializing one mans physical and emotional journey, but also because it is a story with a lot to say. Ultimately what Into the Wild is about cannot be distilled into a few sentences, but as we follow Christopher McCandless (AKA Alexander Supertramp) on his journey down America then back up again, and meet the people he meets, we are asked again and again to question the meaning of family, friendship, aspirations and happiness as well as what modern society means to the people who inhabit it. What is nice about the story is that everyone can take from it what they will. What begins for Alexander as an almost aesthetic goal of a life without all the trappings of modern society – I mean all of the trappings – ends with achievement of that goal, but more importantly with the realization of what it really means to be happy, or more specifically what the requirements for happiness to flourish are. There are some moments in the film which could have degenerated into horrific cheesiness, or plain painfulness, but the acting is absolutely spot on and the film finds poignance all the right places. Its quite refreshing to find a film which doesn’t dwell upon itself, given that it is based on a true story, and one supposes sticks to it relatively rigidly (though quite large chunks can not be anything more than conjecture) there is no hanging around. Into the Wild spoke to the part of me which enjoys wandering off and seeing what parts of the world are like which I have not been to before, and the part of me which at the end of a long day at work would dearly like to turn my back on the city and return only when I am ready, I think that it should be watched with an open mind as to the possibilities it presents – and maybe a phone call to a family member you have not spoken to for a while at the end.

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Act of Valor

I suppose when a film purports to be based on real events it sort of has to take itself seriously, otherwise, particularly with combat movies it runs the risk of belittling events in which people almost certainly lost their lives. But what I think is insulting here is the absolutely worst dialogue ever. I mean ever. Not a single line was not absolutely terrible. This is all made worse by the fact that the whole thing might just as well have been titled “America fucking rocks, go fight for it”, I mean if it had the decency to go a little tongue in cheek and maybe throw in some fun lines it might have been ok, bit its all freedom this and integrity that. This is also ignoring the fact that the film takes place in about a million locations around the world, at none of which anyone seems to even hesitate to ask the question “can we shoot people in this country”. Credit where it is due, the combat is badass, especially in the first set piece, but as for the rest of it – you are better off watching Rambo.

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Hell Drivers

The tag line for Hell Drivers is “Roaring down the worlds deadliest roads!”. Now I have seen ice road truckers and that other one which I think may actually have “deadliest roads” in the title, where they drive along some road built by a nutcase on the side of a mountain and try not to fall off, and let me tell you those roads are about as far from the roads of Hell Drivers as you can get. This is because ice and the side of mountains are inherently dangerous, the English countryside is categorically not. That is unless you speed up footage of trucks slightly so they seem like they are going exceptionally fast, yes the same tactic employed in Mad Max, and we all know how well it works there. So the title and tag line really make a lot of promises about this film – the reality is that it is actually about truck driving – and its bloody fantastic. This is not only because it actually carves a story from truck driving you give a shit about, which is impressive in itself but also because its actually less predictable than it first seemed – and I actually found myself shouting at the bad guy and willing the good guy to be good! Its made in the fifties which gives is three more reasons to watch it. The first is that you can see a young Sean Connery in a bit part, a slightly less young Sid James, and Patrick. McGoohan as an absolute asshole of a villain. The second is that the over acting is unintentionally hilarious. Finally it is a unique look into a strange world called the fifties where people drink tea on nights out and workers operate diggers on building sites wearing no less than a full suit, shirt and tie, and even leather jacket wearing, truck driving, (apparently Welsh??!) former prisoners speak the Queens English.

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The Many Strange Stories of Triangle Woman

This is a strange film, but then that is the only real promise it makes. It is also vaguely sold as comedy, but I think this does it a disservice in that a- its not that funny, and b- compared to comedy coming out of the British surrealist tradition like Monty Python or The Mighty Boosh this is entirely different. So what is it? On a really basic level it is a set of surreal shorts stuck together with a narrator – the triangle woman. There is no overarching narrative, each of the shorts could work on their own. Herein lays the problem, some of them do not work at all, and some work very well. The first is extremely David Lynch, and so are a couple of the others, these ones have some internal logic, even if it is a weird internal logic. The less well constructed segments – a sort of moustache party for instance are vaguely boring. To sum up, the film is noble in its aims, and credit should be given for its vision, but it should be remembered that absurdity can still be engaging and tell a story, it is not an excuse to do anything at all. That said, I don’t feel like I wasted my time with this, we’ll see of this first time director/producer manages to get anything else out there.

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Django

I cannot truthfully say that I would have watched this were it not for the recently released Tarantino effort, I cant imagine how pleased whoever owns the rights to it must have been when that was released. Django has a pretty amazing theme tune (yes, the same one that is in the Tarantino film) which tells you what is going to happen at the end of the film and ruins it all for you. That is OK though, because its not exactly unpredictable anyway. Plus the dvd case said something like “Django arrives in town with a coffin … kills lots of people with a machine gun … who knows what is in the coffin?” (I may have paraphrased/entirely changed words) well, I guess that a coffin would be an excellent place to hide a machine gun. So with the song and the dvd case, the two most important plot twists are ruined. Is there any other reason to watch it then? Well the dubbing is unintentionally hilarious, Djangos voice is completely wrong and all the Mexicans have the same awful awful accent, and it does look pretty – its a big muddy Western landscape where everything and everyone is wind blown and weathered. Ultimately Django is a film in which Klan members are killed because they are (obviously) terrible whilst simultaneously racist stereotypes of Mexicans abound, make of that dichotomy what you will.

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