Monday, June 20, 2011

The Week in Movies 13/6/11 - 19/6/11

Well last weeks post was quite fun so I thought I'd continue with the experiment. Part two coming up.

The Humphrey Bogart noir Dead Reckoning was first up and it seems like forever ago now. It's been a really long week. This was by no means a great film or anything like approaching one of Bogie's best but it was very watchable. It leads to the question "Why is classic Hollywood much more watchable at it's most average when even those films that are often considered quite good in modern cinema make me want to switch off and watch something else?" It's a long question. Actually this was enjoyable right up until the last 30 minutes, it has a fake ending and then keeps going for what feels like an age for Bogie to realise he's shacked up with the femme fatale after all. A tedious ending to an otherwise decent enough film.

Chris Marker's short film La Jetee (Jack.L actually reviewed it on his excellent blog back in January here if you missed it and if that wasn't enough the J.G. Ballard centred site Ballardian has a more in depth look at it) has been on my mind for some time and this week I got around to showing it to Leah. It was the basis of David Peoples script for Twelve Monkeys and if you haven't seen it I hope me explaining to you that he uses a series of still images and a voice over to tell what is a very similar story to Terry Gilliam's finished product won't spoil it. From a film history point of view it's invaluable, as a study in experimental film practices it needs to be seen and even just to experience it as a haunting story of post-apocalyptic humanity you won't be disappointed. From a Twelve Monkeys point of view it's quite amazing how much of Markers visual style ended up being incorporated in addition to the story.

And then came a truly odd piece of modern cinema, Take Me Home Tonight is a Topher Grace project, it is essentially an 80's set teen comedy about university graduates (not teens, I am aware of this) with an R rating in America. It's my understanding that an R rating means people don't get to see the film, am I incorrect in this basic assumption? So who did they think were going to spend money to see this at the cinema? Not the all important teen market that it's aimed at because they're not old enough. That aside, it had some funny moments but tragically the talents of Anna Farris, Dan Fogler and to a lesser extent Topher Grace were wasted thanks to an often (but not always) predictable script and some entirely unfunny set pieces. Topher Grace was quoted as saying that he wanted it to feel like it was made in the 80's not just a parody and maybe the fact that you don't really notice that it's the 80's means he's done a good job but I say go watch Hot Tub Time Machine instead. It's all round better and with less uncomfortable moments in which you are embarrassed for the film makers.

I wrote half a review of Dead Again already, it's here if you missed it. We followed it up with The Ghost Writer, which has had all kinds of good reviews but was incredibly obvious and made me yawn. Leah went to bed in a rage at how poor Ewan McGregor's accent was and left me sitting in stupefied silence as "the big reveal" happened. The way the dead writer hid the "awful secret" in his manuscript was shocking, as Leah pointed out when I later described it, it was a device used in the pre-tween tv shows she used to watch. Robert Harris is to blame for this clearly. I don't really have anything negative to say about the construction of Polanski but I don't really remember being impressed with much. The BMW product placement was pretty in your face.

I rewatched Machete this week. It's so much fun. Machete don't text. Makes me laugh just thinking of that piece of dialogue. Danny Trejo is absolutely perfect for the part. The silly gore is exactly that, it's not gratuitous in the way slasher porn films have been recently, it's just fun. I recently saw Hobo With a Shotgun, which initially felt like it was grabbing on to the coattails of Machete until it just went too far with it's needless gore and headed out in to territory that I'm not willing to follow. Machete is just about enough for this blogger.

A Saturday afternoon on the sofa found me online brainstorming with my film making partner in crime and he suggested some films as reference, Tucker & Dale vs Evil and Dylan Dog: Dead of the Night.

Tucker & Dale was so much fun, I may have to write a full post for it this week if I get a chance, but for now we should settle on the first 2 acts being so good and completely original that the slight fault of the third act can be easily ignored because you're going with the flow. For those not in the know, Alan Tudyk (Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball) and Tyler Labine (TV's lame sitcom Mad Love and that good idea gone bad Reaper) are good natured hillbillies fixing up their holiday cabin who find themselves under attack from some holiday making college kids. It's a fun take on a tired genre.

Dylan Dog on the other hand is something else entirely. It's a comic book movie starring Vegan bass player Brandon Routh as a Private Investigator of supernatural crimes. I really liked the idea and wouldn't mind checking out the comics but the translation just didn't work for some reason. The mood is right, Brandon Routh is cast very well as Dylan Dog and Sam Huntington is incredibly likable as his Zombie sidekick (turns out they were Superman and Jimmy Olsen together, I didn't know that cos I skipped Superman Returns,) there are some laughs and some OK action but the script lets it down. Some of the dialogue is clearly taken from the comics and whilst you can imagine it working and making you laugh in a comic book it just doesn't work as a moody voice over in a movie for example. There is a chase scene in somebody's house and the dialogue consisted of "through here...this way...come on...." I kid you not. And the final nails in it's coffin, sometimes your mind wanders and you think you're watching Buffy or Angel (the makeup budget is to blame I think) and the end reveal/fight scene/showdown just goes on and on and on, it's like 40 minutes of blah just roll the credits already.

I managed to finish everything I started this week. How about you guys? Did you turn anything off this week?


  1. WOW Toby, a proper week you have had hey?

    I bloody loved Tucker and Dale, such a funny film that managed NOT to fall into any cliché traps like scary movie!! A master stroke, that hit me from completely under the radar.
    Dylan Dog sounds awful, but I kinda got that from the trailer.

    I am going to have to find me a copy of La Jetee it sounds cool!!

    I look forward to next weeks post!

  2. To answer your question a US R rating (supposedly) means that you have to be 17 or 18 to purchase tickets for a movie. In reality what happens is that none of the folks selling the tickets check ID, nor do they get paid enough to really care. I also think there's no legal penalty for selling R rated film tickets to people below the age. At this point in our history, I think the American ratings system is more a guideline for parents than a binding system for theaters.

  3. La Jetee is definitely a must see film, just an extraordinary creative statement, and yes so haunting. I was lucky enough to have seen it in class, a few years before I saw 12 Monkeys.

  4. Machete was one of the most fun movies I've seen in quite some time. Haven't given hobo a chance yet but it's in my queue.

  5. custard - yeah i didn't even think i'd watched much until i'd put the blog together, this weeks gonna be different though, not even time to think let alone blog about movies. it's moving time. and i reckon you'll find la jetee on a double pack with another chris marker film, san soleil, on lovefilm.

    alan - interesting you should mention that. when i worked in a cinema in the UK there were strict guidlines for ticket sales and harsh penalties if you're caught selling tickets to underage patrons. if it's only a guideline why do filmmakers worry so much about it?

    BT - it's something special that's for sure. the twelve monkeys connection actually reduced it's impact on me for the first viewing but the more i see it the better it is.

    timmy - thanks for stopping by, i don't want to seem like a stick in the mud but i can't really recommend you do that! it does sound like fun though. a friend told me i don't like fun this week when i called this movie vulgar. read in to that what you will.