Do You See

31
Oct 03

What’s The Time Mr Wolf

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What’s The Time Mr Wolf was one of my favourite playground games as a youth. A creeping up on the bad guy game, there was a delicious moment, when whoever was playing the wolf would shout “Dinnertime” and the dynamic changed from sneaky to out and out chase. I mention it because in Michael Haneke’s Time Of The Wolf there is are two similar moments. One happens thirty seconds into the film, the other about two thirds in.

The intro to this film is so damn good that it does not really leave the rest of the film anywhere to go. The plot is pretty much a French version of Survivors. There has been an unnamed catastrophe and now supplies are running low. Unlike the plucky Survivors band, the French appear to be a much more vicious bunch, their communes are full of moaners, religious fanatics and cripples. The problem with post-apocalyptic dramas is that there is nowhere for them to go. The set up is grand, but when the problem to be solved is the reinstatement of civilization, there is too much to do in a two hour film.

This is possibly why Hanake, after getting to the bottom of small society dynamics suddenly changes everything by bringing in a much larger settlement. It gives the film something to do but seems to unsettle it. It certainly allows for more conflict, but stretches some of the narrative. He relies on a withdrawal to a tiny personal ending to try and cap it off, without really making any conclusions. The only conclusion I made, except for being grimly entertained, was yet another reminder at how good Isabelle Huppert is. Here, looking like Helen Mirren, she is strong when she needs to be, whilst never hiding the broken woman in her eyes. Time Of The Wolf is her film, and it is a little bit disappointing that she does not get to end it and that the influx of characters removes her slightly from the fore. But probably the best French film I’ve seen this year.

30
Oct 03

XX/XY is a fine little indie relationship drama.

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XX/XY is a fine little indie relationship drama. No great shakes in a lot of areas: it privileges its female characters over its male character to an amusing degree since he is both likeable and impressively gormless. The very premise of the film though, that an early doors threesome may throw seeds of disarray into your relationship, is not really the line followed through in the film.

The most striking scene in the film though is the transitional sequence between 93 and now (that now might not work so well in fifteen years time). We fade out on a droopy mustachioed Mark Ruffalo as king idiot being arrested by traffic cops – to a much more Gap attired, clean shaven version. Enjoying a coffee, he is identified by a passerby as a director of, well very little fame indeed. Usefully it shoehorns who he is, the moustache was a lot of his original look. However the kid admits to having seen Ruffalo’s film, and thinking it sucked. And asked for his money back. It is a cute scene which means absolutely nothing in the scheme of the film, but plays well to anyone who has sat through a crap film. For all his whinging about the distributors and exhibitors, he shells out the twenty bucks. How much money would I have now if I could do the same, Mr David Mackenzie.

29
Oct 03

The first hour and a half of Martin Scorsese’s Il Mio Viaggio In Italia

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Last night I saw the first hour and a half of Martin Scorsese’s Il Mio Viaggio In Italia, which has convinced me that if Marty ever gives up directing he is a shoe-in for film school lecturing. It is basically a personal history of Italian cinema, told by someone who is up-front straight away that this is not an academic look. As such, he spends much of the pre-amble pointing out the intersection between his family and the process of seeing these films. He brings up the power of seeing “the old country” on film, that his viewing fills in certain gaps in his own past. His own history is one of film.

Scorsese – despite his oddly distracting bulbous nose – is a terrific narrator. Not only does he get across his enthusiasm for the Italian films he loves but this also makes it clear that this is his history of Italian cinema. A history where he sees films out of order, where his love for Rossellini overpowers all of his acceptance of some of Rossellini’s possibly rubbish films, and one where he is control of the meaning. Luckily he also makes this clear, he does not expect us to see Berlin, Year Zero in the way he did (slightly disappointed that there are no Sicillians in it). Once the film gets past its preamble, and that is half an hour, I then spent an hour watching him slowly dissect only four Rossellini films. Whilst I am sure I do not agree with him, or will not agree with him, about the absolute majesty of each film – fuck me he made me want to see them properly. Opinionated in a self deprecating way, I only wish I had a chance to see the other mooted eight hours of this documentary. Put this on instead of Gangs Of New York and I would be there like a shot.

God forgive me for discovering this

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God forgive me for discovering this, but the CBBC channel is currently repeating one series per week of early Eighties schools’ programme Look and Read. Sadly you’ve missed Dark Towers and The Boy From Space but ‘ even more sadly ‘ there’s still time to start faking symptoms ready for a week off sick for Badger Girl.

This tale of conservation and pony rustling on Dartmoor ends with a scene of quite graphic savagery in which Stripey the Badger knocks the two villains to the ground and tears at their throats (download the clip if you don’t believe me). The series holds a special place in my heart because on a 1984 family holiday to Devon I actually got to meet Mary, the badger who plays Stripey in the show, and have her lick my face. Like most celebrities she was friendly and approachable, though very much part of her own sett.

28
Oct 03

Last week introduced the new ADA on

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Last week introduced the new ADA on Law and Order: SVU (IMDB is no help on character name, and I am not motivated to research any more extensively. The only thing I learned is the actress is less than a month older than I am? NOOOOOO.) I can’t say I really care for Magic Hairstyle ADA Barbie Midge, though I doubt she will reach Rohmian levels of incompetence. Check out the lesbo tension between her and Detective Benson though (yeah, I know, Benson and a lady lawyer and UST WHAT a surprise), especially during the “yeah I have no social/sex life, none of us detectives do” scene. LEZ UP, BENSON, LEZ UP!!!

Also: Why are the regular cast characters looking suddenly ten years older? Especially Ms Hargitay who is sportin’ the matching hair and skin look, which is never good.

As for the plot, what is going on??? Martin Donovan, you are obviously guilty following the Jessica Fletcher Rules of Stunt Casting but fake veins WHAT? At least they have returned to to plot twists that are actual twists i.e. not completely predictable. (The manner of Cabot’s demise, I actually DIDN’T see it coming. Sure, we all knew she was goin’, but WHOA check out all those fake outs!)

27
Oct 03

Waiting For Happiness

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Waiting For Happiness feels to me like the kind of film African directors have to make to get shown in arthouse cinemas in Europe. Whilst the French funding is supposed no strings attached, the truth of the matter is that if the film is not seen in certain places then it would be said that the funding was a waste. Since such little money goes to African film in the first place, this places a ridiculously high burden upon the film-makers. So high that the demands of politics and narrative goes out of the window.

This may be harsh, but I have seen a fair number of African films now which play the festival and arthouse circuit. I know this is not all there is being made, but I know that it is nevertheless a significant proportion. What does the European arthouse audience want to see then? Stunning cinematography? Small, slight tales about life on the edge of a desert? Kids, always with the kids, often being more wise than their age belies.

On a bad day I would have hated Waiting For Happiness, but truth be told it is a beguling little film and the scattershot method means it has at least few moments of greatness (the electricity in the desert part is striking). But it is a singularly unambitious film, you cannot blame it for that. The way African film is funded, and seen has bred films like this. Africa has plenty of films in it, and unfortunately you would think an inconsequential mood piece like Waiting For Happiness would be a lot lower down on the list.

26
Oct 03

Fish can seem a bit boring

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Fish can seem a bit boring, but then two of my favourite things are swimming and eating. I found myself gazing into a fishtank the other day. I was waiting to go into an interview. The fish were calming but in fact I started thinking about whether or not they were happy. Finding Nemo has really exciting animation and a fantastical story. By the end I loved the little fish and their lives – free but vulnerable to predators in the ocean, or trapped and vulnerable to toothy, over-enthusiastic children in their tank. I didn’t get the job but at least I’d got to see some fish.

Well the return of Inspector Frost was dire

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Well the return of Inspector Frost was dire, despite featuring a demented tango competition dancer dismembering her partners for being not good enough PLUS a scene set in a yard stacked high with thousands of busted fridges which suddenly all fell over like dominoes PLUS Frostie tangled with Denton’s yoot’ in a videogame arcade and got the better of them despite their fiendishly unconvincing use of gangsta argot PLUS his assistant copper was a lesbian to his gruff-but-kindly bafflement. Anyway David Jason was looking a bit old, I thought, and I wondered HOW old and when did I first see him on telly and realised it was THIRTY SIX YEARS AGO!!!

24
Oct 03

Jesus – struck by lightning – God dropping hints.

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Jesus – struck by lightning – God dropping hints. If anything it mught just be that God, like the rest of us, is already bored with Mel Gibsons version of the Passion, with its po-face Latin and Aramaic script and its dedication to representing some mystery event AS IT REALLY HAPPENED. Based on the journalistic texts written three hundred years after the event. Hence not strictly fitting NUJ guidelines on good journalistic practice.

I advise whoever is most likely to be playing God at the moment (probably not Chuck Heston, and Alanis Morrisette dropped the ball some time ago) that they aim at Gibson rather than the the lighting grip and the actor next time.

Just to prove that film and TV are better than science

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Just to prove that film and TV are better than science, our sister blog Proven By Science has been taken over by Do You See related topics. First Alan tells us of the fantastic new Look Around You DVD, whilst I get radical with the 1913 leaps in science in Traffic In Souls.