Monday, July 4, 2011

The Week In Movies 27/6/11 - 3/7/11

Another week of not much happening with me and film. But at least I did get some films watched. And they were actually better than last week. Progress is being made.

If I'd had time this week I was going to write a comparison of the two versions of Arthur, but as you can see, I didn't. Arthur (2011) stars everyone's favourite reformed junkie and comedian Russell Brand alongside Dame Helen Mirren (unlike Sir Ben Kingsley she does not advertise this fact on movie posters) in a remake of a very very funny Dudley Moore comedy from 1981. As a fan of the original and especially the performances of Liza Minelli, Dudley Moore and John Gielgud I was extremely hesitant about this version but I'll watch Russell Brand in anything, at least until I know it's awful, Helen Mirren is almost always excellent and I've had a soft spot for Jennifer Garner ever since 13 Going On 30 so it didn't take much to get me to watch it. And what I found was a film that was extremely funny in parts with strong comedic performances from the three leads. There are so many laugh out loud moments from dialogue between Brand and Mirren delivered so quickly that you end up missing some of it. But surely nothing important.

The ending was overtly preaching that Arthur's behaviour is actually a bad thing despite the fact that you've spent an hour enjoying watching him behave like Bruce Wayne with a sense of humour. Whether this was the studio's doing or the influence of rehab on Russell Brand's output I do not know but it seriously brings the mood down and feels like you're being spanked for thinking drinking and womanising and wasting money is funny. The other negative point I must make about this film is the casting of Greta Gerwig in the Liza Minelli role. She stands out as some kind of substandard version of Zooey Deschanel, all fake quirky and cutesy which detracts from the impact of the movie. Liza in the original was so strong a character and so strong a performance that she threatened to steal the limelight from Dudley Moore whereas you can hardly believe that anyone would actually find this try hard hipster interesting enough to throw away $1billion.

I caught up on a recent Woody Allen film that seems to have gone over my head in the last few years, Whatever Works, and I can see why no real fuss was made of it. I like Allen, obviously, and I like Larry David in small doses so this actually appealed to me and I didn't just see it because it was another Woody Allen. I quite enjoyed it but it was incredibly flawed. It felt like some small indie movie about New Yorkers, to use an Americanism they're a dime a dozen and this one really doesn't stand out from the crowd. Larry David is funny, in this he's a blend of the standard Woody Allen replacement and his character from Curb Your Enthusiasm and the rest of the casting, as always with Allen, is great but none of them are really likable and you don't really care what happens in the end. I don't think it helped that the content is primarily about an old man dating a very young girl and the first thing that springs to mind is that it's autobiographical.

When you're in need of something fun and violent Arnie always works. As mentioned in the Sci-Fi chapter of the blahblahblah Family DVD Guide, Running Man is incredibly intelligent and raises many interesting questions about society that are still relevant today. Poor Captain Freedom.

Leah's choice of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher was an average TV movie and easily the worst film of the week. Based on the book by Kate Summerscale this looked like it would impress but let down badly. The book is about the true story of a murder in England in 1860 and the effects of the media coverage on British society and the detecting skills of Mr Whicher. Starring the always excellent Paddy Considine and having had a pretty large budget I had high hopes but as Leah said afterwards if it was a story that would work as a movie a Hollywood studio would have optioned it instead of a British TV channel. As a Victorian period piece it was OK, I didn't notice anything out of place such as a jet in the sky or an ipod on an extra. It looked nice. It was well filmed if a bit obvious in it's camera movement and the acting was not noticeably soap opera level as I generally expect from British TV. And you may all throw countless examples of quality acting back at me here but on the whole it is my experience that the majority is poor. What lets it down is the adaptation. It's just not possible to show the effect that the murder and the subsequent invasion of privacy had on Victorian society in a 90 minute film and so they didn't even attempt it. There was no real detecting and no real story arc either, leaving almost a documentary like structure. A happens, B happens, C happens. That's a little harsh on documentaries actually, the really good ones tell a story much better than Mr Whicher did.

Don't forget to leave a blah about your views


  1. Hi Toby!! How goes it in the land of vegemite sandwiches?

    I am going to watch Arthur this week, I have had a similar view to seeing a remake of a true classic. But I have also heard good things about it.

    Its worth a pop right?

    Anyway hope you are well.



  2. custard! it's been hectic thanks mate!

    definitely give arthur a go. russell brand is excellent and there are some very funny moments. watch it even if it's just for the baby giraffe anecdote.

  3. HAHA I look forward to that....

  4. "Whatever Works" and "Arthur" were about on the same level for me.

    Enjoyed both of them, but majorly flawed and inconsistent (ie: the story, characters, and themes)

    Sounds like a hectic week.

    Keep up the good work.