Posts from 26th December 2009

26
Dec 09

The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 14: The Hope

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Anyone who paid attention in GCSE Geography will be aware of the concentric circle model of a town, with the CBD in the centre and the ‘commuter zone’ around the outskirts. Each zone has its own advantages and disadvantages for why people might want to live or work there.

The same model can be tenuously applied to the proximity of pubs to my workplace (situated bang in the middle of pub-saturated Fitzrovia).

I Can’t Write And Punch At The Same Time: The Unreviewed 2

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More unreviewed films from 2009 (just be grateful I don’t include the 160 odd DVD’s I saw this year too), and this batch is from late summer, and all of these films I didn’t review were slippery. One I wanted to write about at length but it escaped me. One was fading as I thought about it. And the other one? Well the other one I couldn’t write about without wanting to punch the smug faces of its smug cast with a copy of its smug script. Which would distract anyone.

Broken Embraces was great while I was watching it. While on screen I was thinking that this was probably one of Almodovar’s best, tricksy, clever, self reflexive but with a command of his audience that I think is probably without parallel in modern European (world?) cinema. When it finished, I was less impressed. Because when it is boiled down, there really isn’t much story in Broken Embraces, and certainly no story that would be more than a basic melodrama if it had been shown chronologically. Almodovar clearly knew this and thus plays it in flashbacks, with the time out of joint necessarily creating the suspense that the film would not otherwise have. It looks great, Penelope Cruz is terrific and while you are in the cinema it is a great ride. It just lacks the thematic strength of his best films.

Gamer: Why did I not review Gamer? I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to review Surrogates and Gamer together, as they both have similar flaws. Both of them imagine a world in which one form of technology has increased massively without any other ones keeping up. Both use this to make some sort of point about modern day life. And both of them have the point of “this is what modern people would do if they have this technology”. But without really thinking through the sociological changes in society that a new piece of technology causes, the whole finger wagging exercise falls down. Also both are clearly dumb action movies bolted on to a philosophical chassis. At which point Nevedine/Taylor’s movie should win out because, as the directors of the Crank films, they know how to do batshit action. Oddly though Gamer is too serious for their type of action to work, and so they lurch between bloody and frenetic without really nailing it. Couple that with a humourless Gerard Butler as a – yawn – man sent down for a crime he didn’t commit and you have Death Race where the cars are people. More of the musical number at the end, a lot earlier in the film, would have made a lot of difference.