Friday, 23 December 2011

What I'm Watching This Christmas

I don’t know about you, but Christmas Eve for me is always a time of ignoring my family to retreat to my room to watch Christmas movies and await my presents the next day. If you’re like me and looking for something to watch tonight, here’s a list of Christmas movies that don’t suck

  1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
A classic for a very good reason. Jimmy Stewart (aka the love of my life) is miserable on Christmas Eve and considering ending it all when he’s visited by an angel/hobo who shows him how much worse everyone would be if he’d never been born. The fact that it’s about suicide stops it from being too soppy and just the right level of heart-warming.

  1. Love Actually (2003)
I feel it would be entirely unnecessary to explain this film so let’s just cut to why it doesn’t suck. It’s cheesy in a way where you know that the film is laughing with you. There are a few ridiculous moments but the film doesn’t take them too seriously. Most importantly not everyone ends up happy – a necessary element for me to enjoy a romantic comedy. Plus, it is impossible for ALAN RICKMAN to suck. Fact.

  1. Home Alone (1990)
To remind you that there was once a time when Macaulay Culkin was cute rather than kinda creepy and that even if you find your family unbearable on Christmas Day, your parents could be less competent. Also, great ideas for how to protect your home if dim-witted bandits are trying to rob you. RIP John Hughes – Patron Saint of Youth Angst

  1. A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I freaking LOVE Muppets! A classic Christmas tale turned into a musical and narrated by The Great Gonzo, what more could a girl want for Christmas? In my opinion this film is quite possibly Michael Caine’s finest work.

  1. Die Hard (1988)
First, thanks to my friend Ed for reminding me what a great Christmas film this is. For those who think that something soppy like Love Actually might just induce vomiting, comes a heart warming tale about a family reunited by terrorists just in time for Christmas. Not to mention it provides me with the double dose of ALAN RICKMAN required for a perfect holiday season. I know what I’ll be watching tonight.

Merry Christmas guys

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Three Musketeers

The latest version of The Three Musketeers by Paul W.S. Anderson can best be described as a little bit embarrassing. I was never expecting a traditionalist re-telling, so the flying ships and machine guns didn’t bother me. What bothered me was that I was expecting something totally ridiculous that was at least fun to watch. Instead it was something totally ridiculous that often induced cringes and impassioned sobs of ‘Why?’

The three titular characters are not half-bad, played with some competence and sense of character by their respective actors, but Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan irritated me throughout. He was so Hollywood that even in this Hollywood-ised, explosion-filled version of the tale he seemed out of place. His accent and mannerisms could not even briefly be removed from a 21st century Hollywood setting.

On the issue of accents, it certainly takes you out of the world of the film when you realise that every character has a different one. Having a mix of French, German, British and American accents, while modernist is just confusing. I know that making all the actors put on French accents would sound a bit too ‘Allo ‘Allo,  but surely there’s a middle ground somewhere.

I also thought this film might be something of a career revival for Orlando Bloom, following getting cut from the last Pirates of the Caribbean and, to the best of my knowledge, having not really done anything of note in 4 years. But despite the fact that he appears to be having a lot of fun with this he can’t seem to get over the hurdle that he’s not a particularly talented actor. He does an ok job, but he needs to put some work in if he still wants to be getting gigs when he’s 40+.

Christoph Waltz however, as Richelieu makes a perfectly acceptable villain (as always) and Freddie Fox is pretty good as King Louis XIII, though I must say that the facial hair on a 14-year old confused me throughout. Mostly because a joke is never made of it despite the set-up being there.

Possibly the biggest problem with the film is that its script panders to the lowest common denominator. There are far too many moments when character motivations are stated plainly in the dialogue, leaving absolutely no room for audience interpretation. Although it’s a common affliction of mainstream cinema, it does bother me when a film assumes that its viewers are such sociopaths that they can’t interpret human emotion on their own.

Visually the film at least delivers, with plenty of opulent sets and explosions to keep most viewers happy. Thankfully, Anderson also knows that 3D doesn’t just mean stuff flying out of the screen. The 3D is subtle and inoffensive, largely being used to add depth rather than assault the corneas.

The film is not completely devoid of fun, but the sheer level of ridiculousness you need to accept to gain access to that fun was usually beyond the capacity of this viewer. Should have gone with my gut and seen Contagion instead.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

'Cowboys AND Aliens' - a concept that should have suceeded

So, I’d been looking forward to Cowboys & Aliens since I saw the first trailers months ago. I was excited for a number of reasons, primarily:
1. cowboys
2. aliens.
3. Harrison Ford
When I went to see the movie last Tuesday, I felt like I was determined to not be disappointed. Every time disappointment threatened it was like a voice in my head would pipe up “but there’s cowboys AND aliens” to repel disappointment. There’s no doubt that this is the ultimate high concept film. And although overall I still didn’t mind the film, looking back now I’m starting to wonder whether cowboys and aliens was all that Cowboys & Aliens had to offer.

The story itself was just that little bit too predictable. The characters were a little shallow and their personal journeys within the film were pretty easy to plot out. Few of the characters showed any development by the end, and those that did seemed to develop as a spontaneous phenomenon rather than in response to the conflict they’d faced. What’s more, despite my excitement for Harrison Ford he failed to wow me. I spent the whole film thinking “Harrison Ford got really old and has made enough money that he no longer has to put effort into his acting”. Massive disappointment for this fan.

I could forgive the predictability of the story if the film had been a little cleverer in terms of structure. The first hour of the film is structurally your standard western. Replace the word “aliens” with “Indians” in the story outline and the film could easily have been The Searchers, the film that convinced this cinephile to love westerns in the first place. But the latter half of the film dragged, with action sequences clearly intended to draw in the lowest common denominator clouding what could have been an interesting modern interpretation of the western.

Though I loved picking up on the references to Alien and Star Wars (amongst many others), I feel the use of such intertextuality was a bit heavy handed, paying homage to such films without really adding much to the subtext of the film.

Maybe this blog is a bit harsher than I intended it, but it seems as though Cowboys & Aliens is one of those movies that disappoints me a lot more when I think about it in retrospect than it did at the time.