Film 2Oh!!

5
Apr 11

Film 20h!! : Travolta/Cage

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I’ve seen 67 films this year and have written about 1 of them. Lets see if I can catch up

1: From Paris With Love (On TV)
From Paris With LoveWho’d have thought, when John Woo made Face/Off, that the fortunes of its two stars Cage & Travolta would be so intertwined. Travolta is a man whose career would be ruled unsafe as a rollercoaster even in a country where they hadn’t heard of health and safety legislation. And in another of his periodic (and we often wish permanent) lulls the world’s second most famous Scientologist rolled up in last years From Paris With Love. In a part where he was clearly the second choice after Nic Cage.

The role is of a loose cannon US spy, who breaks all the rules in a business notable for a lack of rules, with a garrulous charm that makes you love him even though he is a dick ALL OF THE TIME. Actually, Travolta seems unable to tap any of his old garrulous charm and so instead just plays him as a dick all of the time.

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6
Apr 11

Film 20h!!: Dunkin Donuts On A Train

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I’ve seen 68 films this year and have written about 3 of them. Lets see if I can catch up

3: Source Code (cinema)

source-code-movie-poster*Source Code is a very confident confection of idiocy. Duncan Jones has hit what works (make a modern sci-fi film with a grab bag raid of seventies stylings) and from the stabbing Bernard Hermann-esque chords over the VISIT CHICAGO intro you are thrown into this nonsense head on. And like any good liar, Jones understands there is the moment, the nonsense premise moment, when your entire film can be destroyed. Here the Groundhog Day meets Deja Vu plot is explained in one simple line: “Quantum calculus, slight electrical brainwave activity after death – every second we explain it to you we waste valuable time!”** Delivered straight faced and then back into the action.

Source Code is one of those timey-wimey (not timey-wimey) films which are wholly consistent within themselves, since all they need to be consistent with is “Quantum calculus, slight electrical brainwave activity after death”. Very little of it stands up as something that makes sense unless you consider that these are the actions of a befuddled, slightly brain dead person. But its entertaining, tight, intelligent when its not being dumb and – and –

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7
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Dirty Deeds Done With Dirt

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I’ve seen 69 films this year and have written about 4 of them. Can I catch up?

4: Season Of The Witch (cinema – for shame)

So back to Nic Cage. Maybe he got all of his being nuts out of his system in last years Bad Lieutenant. I don’t know, its on the list to be seen. But all I know is the Nicholas Cage I expected to turn up in a medieval tale of sorcery and swordplay did not turn up. Season Of The Witch is supposed to be a bonkers romp through mittle-Europe rife with superstition with, at its heart, a reliably batshit actor and his gruff sidekick. Poor old Ron Perlmann essays a perfect gruff sidekick to a Nic Cage who is all armour and no personality.

Oh, by the way, Season Of The Witch is another great example of a film named after a song where the song does not appear.

Its a film with two prologues. The second, a flick through fifteen years of crusading with Ron and Nic seems a lot more fun than the film we get. And in the first we see a witch getting hung and drownded in that over the top way they did back in the 12th Century. And then we see said witch/demon come back to life, torture a priest and fly off cackling. And in doing so we discover:

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11
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Note To Self: Stop Renting Things When Drunk

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I’ve seen 72 films this year and have written about 6 of them. Can I catch up?

6: Ninja Cheerleaders (DVD)

The golden era of the exploitation movie is well past, but it was never that much of a golden age in the first place. As Al and Sarah are discovering in their Welcome To Violence flick through Russ Meyer’s back catalogue, exploitation movies cannot be reviewed like normal films. Or at least they can, but once you have gone past listing the failings in art direction, script and acting you leave yourself very little room to explain why it was all so exciting. If it was exciting, because the flaws in acting, dialogue, script, art direction and pretty much everything has been known to sink many an exploitation film. That and not knowing exactly what you are exploiting.

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12
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Steven Malkmus Covering Crazy Town

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I’ve seen 73 films this year and have written about 7 of them. Can I catch up?

7: Pavement Butterfly (Großstadtschmetterling) (British Silent Film Festival)

I’m pretty oblivious and forthright when it comes to expounding opinions. In the end the most important thing to me is how I respond there and then to what is on the screen. This is a preamble to say that the one group of films I feel distinctly unprepared to talk about are silents. Which is possibly why I have been pushing my comfort zone and seen seven silent films already this year (and have a target of fifteen). Which has doubled the number I have seen in my life, and some of those had me along for the Pet Shop Boys rather than the Odessa Steps. (I am very much looking forward to the new print of Battleship Potemkin coming soon though).

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14
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: 80’s Public Sector Nostalgia (aka There’ll Always Be A Loach)

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I’ve seen 74 films this year and have written about 8 of them. Can I catch up?

8: Oranges And Sunshine (cinema)

There is something nice about knowing that Jim Loach, Ken’s son, despite being a regular director of Footballers Wives back in the day, is resolutely a chip off the old block when it comes to feature directing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Ken would have made Oranges And Sunshine in the same way, but an interest in highlighting injustice, and exposing the scandals of the State are clearly shared by father and son. And who in this day and age would dare have a social worker for a heroine?

Oranges and Sunshine is the tale of Margaret Humphreys, Nottingham social worker who uncovered the programme of mass state emigration of care home kids from, the UK to Australia, and her trying to discover who they are. Its an odd affair, where the villain is mainly long gone governments, plus a few abusing Christian brothers.

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15
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: The Limits Of Limitless

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I’ve seen 76 films this year and have written about 10 of them. Can I catch up?

First a bit of housekeeping: the two films I had already written about this year were both in Narnia week and were:

9: The fantastic Rare Exports (cinema)

10: The more ho hum The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (cinema)

11: Limitless (cinema)

For a film about someone who gets very smart, Limitless itself is only a B average student. Whilst it is not wholly stupid about the effects a brain enhancing drug could have on society, it picks and chooses its scenarios carefully. It considers the obvious that others may have had access to the drug, that you may wish for more wishes. But its biggest problem is its very title. Because there are lots and lots of limits inherent in the scenario presented in Limitless.

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19
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Who’s The Sucker?

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I’ve seen 79 films this year and have written about 11 of them. Can I catch up?

12: Sucker Punch (cinema)

sucker punch ~ n.
1. a sudden surprise punch, esp from behind
2. a sudden unexpected defeat or setback

Whilst there is much wrong with Sucker Punch as a film, there area also enough grubby hands over its structure that you get the feeling that blame needs to be spread. Its near total failure at all levels of course makes it an extremely fascinating film, the very name of the film being an example. Why exactly is this film of nested fantasies called Sucker Punch? When you look at the definition of a Sucker Punch, there seems only tangential relationships between the plot and this kind of unexpected twist. So is it?

a) The unexpected setback to Zack Snyder’s career, which up to now had been commercially and artistically* successful

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20
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Cheri Bomb?

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13: Cheri (DVD)

Despite appearances, Michelle Pfeiffer’s character is not called Cheri. This is distracting.

I kind of regret not seeing Cheri in the cinema. I like Stephen Frears anything goes approach to his recent directing career, bouncing from good to bad project. He strikes me as a very anti-auteurist director,which is not to say he isn’t stylish but the style always seems subservient to the project. And here the project is a fluffy costume drama, a return to Dangerous Liasons territory. Without any of the heft. Its the story of Michelle Pfeiffer’s aging Parisien prostitute’s hold over her younger paramour, and what happens when he goes off and gets married. It looks great, but is a bit fluffy and inconsequential. But any period film that comes in at 1.30 I would be loathe to call bad. It is at least concisely entertaining.

Part of the secret of the brevity is the addition of a narrator who fills in a lot of the information in advance, and even delivers the
dramatic conclusion showing it. Tell don’t show is very much in evidence at the start and end of this film

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22
Apr 11

Film 2Oh!!: Danny Ocean Was Never This Fast (or Furious)

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14: The Fast And The Furious 5: Rio Heist aka Oceans 14 (cinema)

I have seen every Fast And The Furious film in the current cycle in the cinema. Even Tokyo Drift. The travails of undercover cop turned bad guy Paul Walker and bad guy staying a bad guy Vin Diesel have been an entertaining pleasure of mine for the last ten years or so. (Even Tokyo Drift). Part of the pleasure is in this being a franchise centred around unreformed bad guys, they race cars, they steal stuff and whilst they don’t set out to kill people, people inevitably die (poor old Michelle Rodriguez). It has given up trying to reform them, they are now career criminals and there is something refreshing about a franchise which has accepted that bad guys can be fun to watch (cf Crank!) And somehow despite losing all of its lead characters in Tokyo Drift (that’s why no-one saw it) they are all back here in Rio plus Dwayne Johnson – who has to wear a beard lest we mistake him for Vin Diesel. For some reason these big bad car thieves and street racers want to re:make Ocean’s Eleven, just with added car stunts. Indeed they stuff the film with a gang of nine of them, plus a few extras, it truly is as stuffed as a soap opera with extraneous characters. Stuffed with car thieves who decide to rob a police station. Mainly because it is a stupid idea and thus a great idea for a stupid franchise. And if that makes no sense from a story telling point of view, wait til you see the physics of this film. Really. It is laughable.

Which is great because I like laughing.

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