Monthly Archives: September 2013

Three Colours White

With none of the dead pan seriousness of the ‘Red or ‘Blue’ films, Three Colours White is far more watchable, and infinitely more satisfying. Karol, who begins the film a sort of pathetic buffoon (spoilers) re-incarnates himself as a street wise money man in contemporary (1994) and (mostly) rural Poland; and he is extremely successful. Why does he do it though? To get back at his ex-wife of course, who begins the film as something of a bitch and ends in it prison. Which is potentially a bit harsh depending on how you read the film. Like all the best revenge stories it is best served very cold and in drastic overdose. That said what you bring to the film really does make a huge difference to it. Like a sort of Polish Old Boy, Karol is perversely driven by his need for revenge, but he is potentially as driven by his love for his former wife. He has a huge heart, it seems like everyone else loves him. He changes how he acts, how he looks and even how he speaks but he still ends the film with tears in his eyes as his wife asks him to marry her again. This made me love him a bit too, I think he’d be just fine without her. What it comes down to is what you think these tears really mean. Karols issues with his wife are inextricably linked to sex, his transformation is crowned by his ability to finally consumate their marriage, a good few years too late. It seems like the film is telling us that sex comes with success, or at least self worth does, and that sex is somehow related to this, which I guess is problematic in itself, but also it is that it is ultimately the womans issue here, this makes it a real problem. It does not read well that the pair ostensibly divorce because sex is an issue, specifically her issue, and that when Karol can finally satisfy her in the bedroom she falls in love with him again. Karol plays the game well, gives her what she wants, then sees her locked away, one finds themselves hoping that his tears are not of joy at a potential future together, but joy at the success of his plan. But this means we think that wanting a good shag from your husband must be punished. Should we be talking about the problematic portrayal of women through the rubric of sex, or should we be praising Karol for exposing a fundemental misunderstanding of love? I’m choosing to overlook it, because I cant actually decide either way. Three Colours White makes me feel good, and I hope that Karol is happy, what ever happens, and if I am willing to suspend my disbelief for long enough to wish a fictional character a happy future then the film must be doing something right.

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The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

So for reasons known only to him and whoever paid for it, Peter Jackson shot the film at 48 frames per second, rather than the usual 24. Ridiculous I thought, I felt like expectations of my eyes were too high, I can’t see that many frames that quickly, no one can. So I played it at the normal 24. This had two results. First it made the film just under six hours long. This wasn’t such a big deal, it just meant I would watch it in ten sittings rather than five. The other issue was that everyone talked really slow, and moved really slow and basically did everything really slow. It was stupid, what was Peter thinking when he made a whole scene of people throwing plates around really slowly. I watched that scene at normal speed and it was a pile of shit, it was even worse with everyone making whale noises. Anyway I couldn’t take much of it and had to accept that I would need to watch it at 42 f.p.s, even if it meant I’d miss some important frames whilst I looked at my shoe, which turned to be better than the god awful start of the film. It got better though, brilliant, completely pointless stuff happened, loads of it, just endless episode after episode of stuff that did nothing at all to forward the plot. One bit was so confusing, with millions of goblins or something running around that i just assumed everyone important would be dead, I was wrong though, none of them had but a scratch. I would suggest, rather than making the same viewing mistakes that I did, just skipping to the last twenty minutes, then skip those as well.

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Three Colours Blue

Julie begins the film with a husband and and eight year old daughter. They are swiftly removed from the picture by the age old film method ‘car crash’. ‘Car Crash’ is always good because it means you can wipe out whole families at once and let who ever needs to escape relatively unscathed. Julie has a couple of black eyes and looks terrible for a few weeks, but nothing too serious. With her family gone Julie has nothing else to live for, so is free to exact terrible retribution on the people who cut the brake cables in the crappy French car they were driving home. This isnt a racist slur, French cars in the 90’s were really crap. As she seeks them out, one by one they are tortured into talking, revealing an increasing circle of conspiracy and plot, eventually leading Julie into a murky underworld where concert music is bought, sold and consumed by Paris’ criminal underbelly. She finds out that her husband was known as ‘the maestro’ and led an orchestra known as much for their brutal method of disposing of their enemies ‘the viola of pain’ as they were for their conchertos. Unfortunately for ‘the maestro’, and for Julie there is a new conductor in town, and he favours the trombone. Actually what really happens is this (…rather more boring plot). Julie was married to a very famous composer, because of this when he dies she is free to mourn in any way she chooses, rather than having to get on with her life like any normal person would. As a consequence she becomes at first something of a bitch. As the world throws more shit her way, which we should note the discovery of which is entirely her own doing (she categorically wouldnt have found out any of the stuff she does if she had just gone and got a job or a hobby) she becomes slightly less of a bitch, or we just start to feel more sorry for her so it makes it more ok. The whole Three Colours trilogy has rather entered the cannon, its supposedly classic stuff, and it is definitely really outstanding film making, thought provoking and exceptionally deep, it just could have used ‘the viola of pain’.

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Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall is just a vehicle for Colin Farrels eyebrows. Seriously, they do some really spot on acting here. I guess it must be difficult, if a director says “look Colin, what I need you to do here is act like you are remembering something from really deep in your brain, something so deeply embedded you had forgotten you even knew it” what do you do? Well Colins eyebrows wriggle around like a couple of furry catapillars and convey just the right amount of confusion mixed with … no its just confusion. This half remake half make up new stuff film is a massive cgi feast for the eyes. The plot is actually more nonsense than the original, which is impressive, but at least in the original there was some sense as to why the whole thing was happening, here there is some “political opression” plot device which seems to manifest in Australia becoming China Town and Britain becoming Little New York. Needless to say i was hardly watching for the storyline, you’ll be pleased to know that whilst I spent a lot of time telling everyone the orignal was sexist this one comes up trumps with the three boobed lady, gets it out of the way right at the start as well, as if they knew the internet would hate on them if they didnt include that little nugget of fourteen year old pleasing dumbness. This doesnt have the heart that the original did, that is, it doesnt have Arnie doing weird things with his face and saying things which crack me up all over the shop, but its not a bad movie, and props for not dumbing it down too much – we can still wonder which side made the memories. So spoilers, this ends with Farrel in a knife fight with Malcolm in the middles dad, which is ridiculous. I know he is all badass in Breaking Bad, but this was just silly, at least when Farrel was fighting a big robot thing it made me a little worried for his personal safety, but Malcolms dad? Come on.

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Anuvahood

As the one hit rapper Obie Trice once said – “i watch gangsta flicks and root for the bad guy, turn them off before the end because the bad guy dies”. Same here, except, spoilers, Kenneth isn’t a bad guy, and rather than dying he eventually ends up holding down a job at lamesburys. Though previous to this all of the problems he spends 90% of the film making for himself are solved through the rubric of about five minutes low level crime. Really, what makes almost no sense is why he doesn’t just carry on being a drug dealer, and sometimes lifting money from flats. Even, it turns out, he is actually respected for his musical talent – but apparently all this can’t stand in the way of the respectable job. If we look at this purely in a “what does this teach us” way it would have made way more sense financially for Kenneth if it had ended five minutes sooner as Mr Trice recommends, even if its morally wrong to say that dealing drugs is lucrative. The thing is, dealing drugs is lucrative, I have seen drug dealers cars. This is funny though, even the bad guys make you think they would be entertainingly disarming in real life – until they steal your shoes. Also the soundtrack is mainstream grime, it was good to be reminded what 2007 sounded like.

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Hansel & Gretel

My job isnt the most exciting thing in the world, its not terrible or anything, it can just sometimes get a little boring. One of my favorite things to do in moments like this is wonder how certain ridiculous scenes would play out if they came to pass. Like what if Jurassic Park had included Barney instead of the t-rex, or what if every Batman ever had been played by Adam West. I get a sense that Hansel and Gretel came out of this sort of thinking, someone sat down, maybe after having a few beers and began the conversation – “What if Hansel and Gretel wasnt for kids?”. Getting drunker and drunker the ideas keep flowing, “they could swear”, “the witches could punch them in the balls!” even “they could be smokin hot!”. Hey wait a minuite there drunk guy, Hansel and Gretel are kids man “no, not in my version which exists at this point entirely in my head, they are grown up… and they are both hot”. Imagine this goes on for maybe three weeks – then make a film out of it. What is great about it is that it absolutely knows its ridiculous, but everyone plays it pretty straight anyway just because it makes it more fun. Some bits I am a bit unsure as to if they are actually meant to be funny or not though, and thats the blurry line between irony and badness. I think I enjoyed this more than the raft of other adultified fairy story films which have come out recently, this was more fun and didnt even bother to try to make itself seem more intelligent with an overly complicated plot. Ok one more – what if Bill and Ted had been waiting at the end of the river in Apocalypse Now.

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Bullet to the Head

It must have been a head injury or something, doctors are not sure at this stage, but despite not knowing the cause the symptoms are painfully clear. Stallone has simply forgotten that the last twenty years happened. I know its silly to assume Stallione had anything other to do with this film other than turning up, doing his lines and collecting his presumably at least 50% of the budget pay check, but there is still a part of me which believes that he is in charge of every project since the roaring success of ‘Staying Alive’, even though his current condition dictates that he cant remember a moment of it. The upshot of this (dubious) case of amnesia is that Bullet to the Head is pretty much the most 80s movie created since 1989. We’ll be generous and call it an homage to the genre, but lets be clear, it isnt that intelligent. The thing is, action movies in the 80s were bloody brilliant, and because this is actually, fully, without a doubt an 80’s action movie, its sort of hard not to love it. It has some issues, its a bit, sort of racist, and a lot sexist and the acting is quite silly. But dont forget, all these things were actually expected in the 80s. I know, we cant say things like “my Gran is a bit racist but its ok because she grew up during the war”, but Stallone seems to know this too, so he throws inĀ  couple of one liners about him being an old guy. Lets just set the tone, the first line Bobo utters (yeah his nickname is Bobo, got an issue with that?) is ” The guy I just saved is a cop. That’s not the usual way I do things, but sometimes you gotta abandon your principles and do what’s right.” this is preceded by Stallone shooting a guy…in the head. So you start thinking, ‘yeah he is a killer, but he doesnt like it, he did it to save the other guy’. Then something begins to not add up, because it turns out Bobo is a hitman with absolutely no issue with slicing and dicing anyone, so long as he gets the franklins. Turns out, this isnt a spoiler, that the ‘principle’ he is referring to is that he usually doesnt help out cops. Tone set, thats the level of ridiculous. For the real spoilers continue reading – Now we can talk about the real reason we know this is an 80s movie, aside from the soundtrack, the naked women for parties for no reason etc, the villian is trying to build fucking condos! Seriously, the evil plot, of the stereotype evil plot guy is to buy up ghetto and make it into condos. This has got to be the most lame ass evil plan in history. Never mind that we never get to see the people who live in the ghetto, so we dont really mind if all their former homes get made into quite nice looking conos, this plan is just something which actually happens pretty regularly, it doesnt require the killing of people. Its ok though, in the 80s this was a big social issue I guess, so it really does work in this context. So I have a plan, they are re-making all the good movies right, because they ran out of ideas in 1993 (yes that is the year Jurassic Park came out) which might explain Stallones condition, so why not re-make back to the future, send the cast of Expendables three back to the 80s and have them kill terminator one.

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McCullin

McCullin follows the career of photo journalist Don McCullin through interviews, archive footage and of course by showing his photos. I had never really heard of him before I watched this, but I was surprised throughout when his photos were shown, it seems that the most striking images are the ones which survive in popular memory of events which largely happened before I was born. It is is fitting tribute to McCullens work, but then his work speaks for itself. Both inspiring a horrifying.

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