Dark Shadows: Johnny Depp raids the dressing-up box again, grown men weep, women rend their clothing.

My toilet became blocked on Saturday morning. I had to spend half an hour with a plunger and rubber gloves, trying to stop myself from vomiting as I fished human turds out of a thick oxtail soup of brown water and floating wisps of shit tickets. This experience was easily more fun than watching the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp effort Dark Shadows.

Based on a 70s soap of the same name, Dark Shadows is the story of Barnabas Collins (Depp), the 18th Century heir to a fishing dynasty who is cursed by Angelique (Eva Green) a witch whose affections he spurned. Transformed into a vampire and imprisoned in a coffin, Collins re-emerges in 1972 and moves back into the ramshackle family mansion with his remaining descendants and their staff. However, Angelique has continued wreaking ruin on the Collinses for 200 years, so it’s up to Barnabas to reinvigorate the family fortunes, whilst struggling to adjust to life as a vampire in the 20th Century.

Despite being based on a hokey soap that no one born outside America after 1971 is likely to have heard of, I thought Dark Shadows held a lot of promise. And indeed, for the first 20 minutes or so, it was shaping up to be a lot of fun. But, as Burton and Depp keep proving with their unholy alliance, strong source material doesn’t always make for a competent or entertaining adaptation.

Firstly, Dark Shadows was all over the bloody shop. Is it a fish-out-of-water comedy? A romcom? A horror movie? A supernatural mystery? A period piece? I don’t know and apparently neither does Tim Burton. One minute, Barnabas is on a brutal vampiric rampage straight out of The Lost Boys, the next he’s brushing his fangs with a toothbrush and snoozing upside down while an elderly cleaner obliviously dusts around him.

Combined with this lack of consistency is a script with an absence of emotional impact and depth. In their place is a load of over the top melodrama, which is presumably a deliberate nod to the original soap. Secondary characters are completely marginalised. You learn next to nothing about them, and any back story or motivations they do have is either crammed into a single line or hastily shoe-horned into the plot five minutes before the end. This is such a shame because the film has an impressive cast and virtually all the supporting characters had the potential to be interesting if they’d been given more screen time. As it is, they may as well have been played by some paper plates with faces drawn on them.

Depp’s character isn’t exactly well-developed, either, despite the huge amounts of time he has on-screen. Barnabas neither grows nor changes, his past mistakes aren’t reflected on and his vampirism and the crimes he commits are barely consequential. He falls in love with Victoria (Bella Heathcote), a young governess who bears a startling resemblance to his long-lost love, but the two are barely seen together and you don’t really care about their romance at all.

This ultra-neglect of characters and characterization, like the willfully bad script, is likely a consequence of attempting to adapt a long running soap, with its myriad story lines and arcs, into a film that’s less than two hours long. However, this is no excuse for how rubbish Dark Shadows is. Tim Burton has made enough adaptations of existing material to know how to do it properly by now. He knows you make changes to the source material so the story works in the new format. When he made Batman he didn’t just take a bunch of photos of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson and paste speech bubbles over their heads.

What makes me really cross is that this isn’t a buttock-clenching Burton/Depp atrocity like Alice in Wonderland. It’s something far more disappointing, because with a decent script, equal attention paid to secondary characters and a bit of sensitive direction, this could have been a quirky gem on a par with Beetlejuice– think The Addams Family crossed with The Royal Tenenbaums, which is what the first quarter of an hour or so was promising. Instead, it’s a self-indulgent, incoherent vanity project wherein Johnny Depp (producer: Dark Shadows) puts on a Poundshop Halloween costume and does a British accent. AGAIN.

Johnny Depp as he appears in Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’.

It’s a complete waste of a strong premise and a talented cast. There are so many good people involved but they’re all phoning in “will this do?” performances, from Michelle Pfeiffer to Danny Elfman to Tim Burton himself.

Burton is more than capable of making films that are both deliciously weird and emotionally involving and his collaborations with Depp are decent when the role demands something more nuanced than a stupid costume. But lately, their bromance has become exceedingly grating, and I’m glad that Depp is not involved in the forthcoming Frankenweenie, which looks like it might be a return to form.

Plot: 3/10

Acting: 5/10

Script: 0/10

Direction: 5/10

Action/ special effects: 8/10

Does it pass the Bechdel test (i.e. does the film feature more than one female character, do they talk to each other and is the conversation about something other than a man)?: There are a few scenes I can recall where named female characters speak to one another about something other than a man. Unsurprisingly most of them occur near the start of the film before Johnny Depp relegates everyone else to set dressing.

Published in: on September 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell 2011 round five: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of Fright Night and his ‘Hell’ choice of The Human Centipede.

Throughout mainstream cinema history, we’ve had dozens of films devoted to the mind and it’s workings, but shockingly few meditations on the human bumhole. In the Era of Goatse, and in the words of the Dude, “This shit shall not stand, man!” Thank the Great Old Ones, therefore, for maverick Dutch auteur Tom Six, whose magnum anus The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a landmark moment for the silver screen.

A heart-warming gem, this film is about two happy-go-lucky American gals on a European vacation. After a burst tyre scuppers an evening’s party plans, they encounter lonely eccentric Dr Heiter… who brings them closer together than they could ever imagine!

The Newman Centipede and chums

Photo courtesy of Ben Hamilton. He's the guy at the back who's dressed as a moth.

As you can probably glean from the above photo, I’ve been looking forward to The Human Centipede since I first heard of it. But would it meet my expectations of a disgusting guilty pleasure of epic proportions?

Well, it’s to my enormous regret that I have to inform you that the Ode to Chode didn’t live up to the hype, and although Six managed to come up with an a truly original idea for a body-horror film, he screwed the pooch (or munched the turd) when it came to the execution.

So, what went wrong, and why wasn’t it the lolgasm I was hoping for? Well, for starters, the central concept, whilst BRILLIANT ON EVERY LEVEL, just doesn’t stretch to the 90 minute run time, so it’s surprisingly dull for a movie 100% about ass-to-mouth.

I like to imagine this is a genius cinematic conceit on the part of Six- the film inflicts on it’s viewer precisely what it does on it’s characters and makes you swallow warm shite for what feels like days on end.

Also, it looks cheap. For a gross horror movie that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and indeed the poor quality of many video nasties only added to their impact and infamy, but this is cheap in a boring, plodding way- like buying moody Monster Munch out of the back of a transit van at a car boot sale. The cinematography falls somewhere between a Media Studies project, a mid 90s TV movie and You’ve Been Framed. Just an ounce the grimy and gory stylistic flair of Saw would have elevated The Human Centipede to something wonderfully grotesque and camp. I’m sure the budget wasn’t enormous, but it could definitely have been better spent- for example, there are people listed on the credits as having produced music for it, but I can’t think of a single instance where it was used to any effect whatsoever. By contrast, the Saw theme music sounds it it was cooked up in Fruity Loops in about 5 minutes and it still manages to get stuck in your head and punctuate the scares.

Another disappointment was that, aside from a graphic description the delightful Herr Doktor gives his Centipeople before the op (accompanied by the now infamous and hilarious slideshow presentation), The Human Centipede didn’t warrant much of a gross-out reaction and was surprisingly tame- people watching who’re expecting 2 Girls 1 Cup shenanigans will be very disappointed, I’m sure. Apparently, Six has ‘fixed’ this for the sequel, but by ‘fixed’ I mean he’s made a film so hideous it was banned by the BBFC.

I mean… come on, there’s got to be some middle ground between the two, surely! I don’t want to spend 92 minutes drumming my fingers in impatience waiting for a poo that never comes, but I’m not exactly champing at the butt (*boom tish!*) to see a woman whose face is stapled to someone else’s arsehole get raped by an obese car park attendant, either. Methinks Tom Six needs to watch some Cronenberg movies for inspiration- according to Wikipedia he counts David Lynch as one of his influences, to which I say:


The Biting Pear of Salamanca, by Uruslav of DevianTArt

Having bitched out for almost all of this review, I am duty bound to point out that The Human Centipede wasn’t entirely worthless. Considering it stars people who are going down in history for not walking out of the audition with the words “waiting tables isn’t such a bad idea” on their lips (lips that are soon surgically attached to a Japanese gentleman’s waste pipe), the acting isn’t awful. I mean, it’s bad, yeah- but bad in a good way. In particular, Dieter Laser, who plays Dr Heiter. He chews the scenery like the world’s most enormous termite and seems to be enjoying his role as a live-action version of South Park‘s Mephesto.

There are also some (maybe unintended) comedy moments, but they are mere tiny kernels of undigested corn in the giant, hoary poo that is this film. As I said before, it’s a landmark for cinema- but not all landmarks are viewed with admiration and respect. Viewing The Human Centipede should be like viewing the Chernobyl nuclear plant- you should be compelled to claw your face, and scream “WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE???!!!” at the top of your lungs. Instead it’s like the east Elevation of Cumbernauld shopping centre- ugly, pedestrian and boring in equal measures.

Architecturally sumptuous, I'm sure you agree

Human Centipede in Brutalist architectural form. Image credit:Wikipedia.

Plot: 10/10

Acting: 4/10

Script: 1/10

Direction: 0/10

Action/ special effects: 4/10
Does it pass the Bechdel test (i.e. does the film feature more than one female character, do they talk to each other and is the conversation about something other than a man)?: Amazing though it may seem, The Human Centipede passed with flying colours! Indeed, before their dialogue is limited to tears, muffled whimpering and simulated scat-swallowing, Lindsay (Ashley C Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) discuss a variety of topics other than men.
It’s galling that a hack like Six can make a something that passes the Bechdel test when dozens of better films seem unable to do so. I was also going to give him a gold star not having his female characters subjected to sexual abuse, but now I’ve read the synopsis of the sequel to this I think I’d be more likely to go all Faster, Pussycat on his ass.

Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Movie Heaven & Hell 2011 round four: Paul

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of Fanboys and his ‘Hell’ choice of Paul.

Tonight’s Heaven & Hell were both comedy road trips featuring Colin & I’s native people: nerds. Colin’s choice of Paul as a ‘Hell’ raised some eyebrows, as it’s written by and starring two Geek Gods, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Similarly, opinions amongst friends were divided over Fanboys as a ‘Heaven‘ film. On the one hand, @alessadark both enjoyed and recommended it, whereas @davefens said he wanted to punch absolutely everyone in it in the face. As it happens, we were unlucky on the coin toss again and ended up watching Paul

Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg) play two English sci-fi nerds who are painfully unfuckable, looking as they do like an Arctic Monkeys roadie and a grubby version of Flash from Blackadder Goes Forth. Pretty much everyone who encounters them think they’re gay lovers (rofl! gays!) but they don’t give a shit because they’ve made a trip of a lifetime to Comic Con in San Diego- the nerd Mecca.

After the Con, they decide to hire an RV for a road trip to prominent UFO hotspots in America. It’s on this voyage of discovery that they encounter Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen)- an alien who’s escaped from the Government and desperate to get back to his home planet. Being nice lads, Graeme and Clive agree to ferry Paul to his rendezvous point. En route, they kidnap Ruth (Kristen Wiig), a fundamentalist Christian with a gammy eye, and are pursued by both the FBI and Ruth’s hyuck-hyuck yokel dad.

Now, before I commence criticism, here’s a summary of why we weren’t relishing this movie despite it’s Pegg/Frost pedigree:

a) I’ve never seen nor particularly care about ET or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which Paul is a love letter to (indeed, Spielberg makes a brief vocal cameo). If that makes me a bad person, mascara my top lip and call me Hitler.
b) The trailer made it look shit. Sorry.
c) It features a wise-cracking, American-accented alien. ALF with big swears.
d) The aforementioned wise-cracking alien smokes weed. I KNOW this is a gag about those awful posters beloved by idiot potheads, but I don’t find the concept funny. So sue me.

Available at Easyart.com, if you happen to be a fucking dick.

So there’s our prejudices laid on the line, but knowing this was Pegg and Frost, we were feeling fairly open minded about Paul and were fully prepared to let it surprise us and surpass our low expectations.

Paul did, indeed, have its strengths, most obviously in its cast. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are great together and it’s always nice to see them perform as a double-act, but Paul also featured a smorgasbord of American comedy royalty in its cameos and supporting roles- Wiig and Rogen, of course, but also Arrested Development‘s Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor, and Glee/Best In Show‘s Jane Lynch. There’s also a brief cameo from Sigourney Weaver, the undisputed queen of sci-fi, who didn’t have a lot to do but looked smashing.

Another point of praise is for the CGI, motion capture and vocal performance used to bring Paul to life. All three were excellent. I’m not a big Seth Rogen fan but he deserves kudos for this- he made Paul likeable as opposed to wacky or an overt smart-arse. This was a big deal for me, as I was expecting something more akin to Roger Rabbit with the character, and it was lovely that Paul didn’t once make my shit itch.

However, the film did have an awful lot of flaws, that, although we tried hard, meant we didn’t enjoy it that much.

For a start, and most importantly, it wasn’t that funny. Whereas Hot Fuzz cleverly twisted and subverted the buddy-cop movie to brilliant comedic effect, Paul relies on a bunch of dick jokes, obvious references that could have come straight out of Family Guy (oh look, a band in a hillbilly bar are playing the Star Wars Cantina Song, how droll) and silly swearing.  Another hindrance was that Paul felt and looked like it should be a family movie, thanks to the simple story, child-like heroes, and cute CGI alien. As a result of this, the swearing and drug use really jarred. Maybe that was the point, but for me, it didn’t work- it was too childish to be an adult comedy and too rude for kids.

The epic amount of creative swearing originates from a scene where Ruth freaks out at the concept of worlds beyond our own and argues with Paul about creationism versus evolution. The row swiftly ends when Paul uses telepathy to share his knowledge of the galaxy. After seeing that maybe the universe does indeed go beyond a literal interpretation of the Bible, Ruth realises she can sin and fornicate and curse all she cocking well wants!

Which, ya know, is nice and all, but it would have been better character development for her to have come to this conclusion on her own once her hysteria wore off (she was talking to a bona fide alien, after all).

Now, if the scene was just there facilitate a character to use lots and lots of combinations of swearwords at comedically inappropriate times, why not make Wiig’s character foul-mouthed from the second we meet her? It woulda been funnier- just look at Malcolm Tucker. And if the scene was there to make some kind of mildly controversial point about the belief in intelligent design, then I don’t think an untaxing sci-fi comedy is the right platform for it- mainly because the subject is a fucking COMEDY GOLDMINE that should be plundered for gags in a movie entirely devoted to it.

In conclusion, Paul definitely wasn’t an awful film, but it also wasn’t up to Pegg and Frost’s usual standards, with few laugh out loud moments.
Come on guys, we know you’re better than this! Although Paul occasionally raised a couple of wan smiles on our dour faces, I think the humour was a too ‘zany’, but when I say ‘zany’ I actually mean ‘studenty’ but I’m TRYING to be nice because, GODS DAMN IT, I like Pegg and Frost.

I wasn’t going to give a numerical score this time as Colin declared that practice as wack, yo. But he’s my husband, so I’m contractually and sacredly obliged not to listen to him, so here we go:

Plot: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Script: 5/10
Direction: 5/10
Action/ special effects: 7/10

Does it pass the Bechdel test (i.e. does the film feature more than one female character, do they talk to each other and is the conversation about something other than a man)?:

Nope. Ruth is the only female character with a lot of screen time and she doesn’t talk to any other women. Definite fail.

On the next Heaven & Hell- we review a horror movie, but which will it be- the new Fright Night, or Human Centipede? Find out tomorrow!

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell 2011 round three: Fast Five

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of City of God and his ‘Hell’ choice of Fast Five.

This night’s Heaven & Hell choices were two films set in Brazil. One’s a hugely acclaimed, hard hitting drama, and the other stars Vin Diesel and The Rock.

Picture it: I balance the two pence piece on my fist and flip it, in slow motion. For a moment, it freezes mid-air, in bullet time, before pinging off into a pile of orphaned socks, closely followed by an intrigued cat. I curse, Colin laughs, I retrieve it, the cat bites me. I flip again, and the Fates, tricksy hags that they are, crimp one off onto our evening’s entertainment. Fast fucking Five.

I’ve seen the original The Fast and the Furious, and it was basically Point Break, but with street racers instead of surfers, and with a bunch of people I couldn’t give a monkeys about instead of Patrick Swayze in a Nixon mask and Keanu Reeves “firing his gun in the air and going ‘aaagh’” (thanks, Hot Fuzz!).

Our main problem with this franchise is neither of us are interested in cars and find the fetishism of them deeply weird. I’m a broke, 29 year old woman. Even if I could afford a car, I’d be terrified of buying one because I don’t know anything about them, other than they go ‘vrooom’ and are good for killing cyclists and children. Plus, I hate driving. HATE it. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to have me as the designated driver on a road trip knows it’s a deeply unhappy experience, punctuated by me muttering ‘fuck fuck fuck FUCK’ for hours on end and hoping I don’t have to park any time soon because I don’t know how to get the unfamiliar hire car into reverse.

And as for Colin… he can’t even drive. He has me to do that for him. The only cars he’s remotely interested in are ones that turn into giant robots or are capable of time travel. He didn’t even drive when we were playing LA Noire. The fact he has no inner Clarkson is one of the things about him that gives me a gigantic wide-on.

So suffice it to say, if the original wasn’t our cup of tea, the prospect of sitting through the fifth in a series of petrol-head films wasn’t making us quiver with delight either. We knew what Fast Five was going to be like. Lots of screeching tyres, girls in denim hot pants, Vin Diesel’s big arms, fade to black.

But wait! According to Wikipedia, Fast Five is an attempt by producers to move the franchise away from the niche of ‘car culture’ (read: flatulent teenage boys who watch Pimp My Ride and save up to put alloys on their shitty Vauxhall Nova) and into the more appealing genre of heist movie. Hey, maybe it won’t be terrible after all! I like The Italian Job and Reservoir Dogs!

Duly innervated by the hope that this wouldn’t be two hours of Hondas zooming down a flyover with Christ the Redeemer in the background, we watched it. Here’s what goes down in funky town:

En route to prison Dom (Vin Diesel) is rescued by his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and her lover Brian (Paul Walker- if you’ve seen the first movie, he plays the Keanu Reeves character). The three of them scamper off to Rio de Janeiro, where they keep a low profile for approximately 3.7 seconds.

After a train robbery they’re involved in goes pear-shaped, they decide to nick $100m from Mr Reyes, a top crime boss and corrupt businessman (Joaquim de Almeida). You know he’s a bad ‘un because when you first see him he’s wearing a white linen suit, a look only favoured by the truly diabolical.

In the mean time, they’re being hunted not only by Reyes (who wants his sat nav back) but also by Hobbs, a humourless Fed played by The Rock, who ironically is sporting a VERY humorous beard. Hobbs thinks Dom and chums are responsible for the murder of three DEA agents during the aforementioned botched train job, and he’s recruited a recently widowed Rio cop (Elsa Pataky) to help track them down. Are you following all this so far?

In the style of every other heist film you’ve seen, our trio of professional car thieves assemble an ensemble to help with the job. They eschew originality and plump for characters that appeared in other films in the series, which I’ve never seen and never will. They also recruit their old buddy Vince (Matt Schulze), who kinda stitched them up over the train job. The reason they do that is so he can get shot in the stomach and die a hero in the third act. Oops, spoilers!

Now, you and I know that, despite our most optimistic fantasies, I was never going to enjoy Fast Five, so you’ll forgive me if I skip the foreplay and head straight to the point where I insert things into the film’s urethra.

Fast Five’s characters frequently defy logic. For example, Mia, knowing she is pregnant, decides to take part in both an extremely dangerous train robbery and some high speed stunt driving. Does that seem like something a normal person would do? Or is it something that only happens when there’s a film being written by a guy whose main concern is how to fit in the optimum number of explosions before they run out of budget?

She also does a lot of hugging. She’s a compulsive hugger- you could paint her red and call her Elmo. Every scene, she has to hug someone. It’s… awkward looking, like she’s been possessed by the spirit of a baby orang-utan.

More bad characterisation comes in the form of Reyes. He turns up dressed like the Man from Del Monte and proceeds to become the most boring, badly dressed and incompetent movie baddie I’ve seen since the douchebag in Quantum of Solace.

When we first meet him, he’s got Brian and Dom chained up in a dingy, rusty looking room that screams ‘torture chamber’.
“Ooh, he’s bad innee?” you think. “What a bad, bad man! Ooh and he’s making some classy bad-guy rapey threats about Dom’s sister an’ all! What a total bastard! I wonder how long it’ll be before he starts poking Vin Diesel with an electric cattle prod… oh hang, on, they’ve escaped!”

After slab-faced Diesel sets fire to a big pile of Reyes’ money (I don’t know why they did that, but you’d think they’d just steal it considering they had an expensive heist to finance), his response is to smack the messenger bearing news of this misfortune over the head with what looks like a ‘Businessman of the Year’ trophy. This scene was meant to make him look ruthless, but it was more like watching a Portuguese David Brent having a temper tantrum. He didn’t even get a satisfying death in the end- he just flails on his back like a wounded cockroach until The Rock gives him the double-tap.

The script is, as you can imagine, total nonsense. Even taking into account that Vin Diesel delivers every line like he’s been on a 48 hour ketamine binge, it’s still really bad. Particularly dreadful dialogue occurs during the car chase at the film’s climax, with Diesel grunting out such bum-clenching clichés as “you’re a father now, Brian!” to explain why his partner in crime should vamoose while he draws away the bad guys.

One good point was that, when it puts the effort in, Fast Five’s action sequences are pretty gung-ho. The train robbery is exciting (if utterly preposterous- surely there’s an easier way to nick three cars) and there’s a great foot chase across the rooftops of the Rio slums.

However, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief through the climactic heist, and there’s an obligatory and uninteresting street race that seemed to be little more than a chance for the characters to play ‘Who’s Got the Biggest Willy?’

Now, to paraphrase esteemed actor and analrapist Tobias Fünke, allow me to take off my amateur film critic pants and strap on my strident feminist dildo.

The writers of Fast Five seem to think they’ve created three “strong women”, presumably so ladies watching won’t drown themselves in their popcorn with boredom. The number of actual “strong women” is somewhat… rounder. I haven’t got enough patience to examine all of them, so let’s just look at the character Gisele (Gal Gadot) as an example of everything that’s wrong with how women are portrayed in movies.

Gisele’s an ex Mossad agent, a weapons expert, and quickly cements her credentials as someone not to be fucked with by pulling a gun on gobby ‘precision driver’ Roman (Tyrese Gibson) after he makes a sexist remark. Yeah, stick it to the Patriarchy, Gisele!

So, quiz fans, now she’s been established as a tough broad, what role do you think she plays in the robbery’s execution? Does she:

A) Utilise her crack sniping skills to foil an ambush in the favelas and saves Vin Diesel’s life; or
B) Engage in a breathtaking, motorcycle chase, kills dozens of henchmen, and looks fabulous while doing it; or
C) Don a bikini and allow Mr Reyes to fondle her bottom, so the gang can take his palm print from her arse to use to crack the safe?

If you chose option C, congratulations, you win a facepalm and an overwhelming feeling of despair that, nearly 100 years after Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s racehorse as a martyr to female emancipation, we still have to put up with this utter shit. Oh, by the way, after her roaring success being touched up by a boring drugs kingpin in a bad suit, Gisele is last seen riding off in the lap of her colleague. If this is a “strong woman” then I’m John the Baptist.

At 130 minutes run time, Fast Five was interminably long for a film that’s meant to be all about speedy things. The set-piece action sequences (which I’ll admit were quite good) are padded out by too many scenes of people standing around drinking bottled beer and spouting dialogue so inane it may have been written by that 8 year old that does Axe Cop.

What made it worse was watching with Colin (latin: traumatronnus geek). A perfect example of natural selection in action, he’s a hardy creature that’s evolved and adapted specially to survive long and boring movies. About halfway through Fast Five, he did what instinct told him to and fell into a defensive coma, thus sparing his precious brain cells. I sadly did not have that luxury, knowing my army of devoted readers would never forgive me if I didn’t give Fast Five the full and proper reaming it deserved, thus I prised open my weary eyes and watched every second, to my utmost regret.

So, predictably, Fast Five was a definite Movie Hell. Whilst featuring some diverting action sequences and an average, if not remotely original plot, it was pulled down too far by it’s cardboard characters, wooden acting (I tip my hat to The Rock, for he and his bird-eating spider of a beard were the best thing in this) and atrocious, flabby, boring, and at times outrageously sexist script.

I know you all like novelty, so I’ve done something a bit different this time round and added scores! Lovely, arbitrary scores! As an added treat, I’ve also noted if the film passed the feminist Bechdel Test (i.e. does the film has at least two women in it, do they talk to each other and is the conversation about something other than a man?).

Plot: 5/10
Acting: 3/10
Script: 1/10
Direction: 5/10
Action/ special effects: 7/10

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?:

There’s three prominent female characters and I can’t remember them talking to each other- despite being in the same room at several moments. However, the film was so boring in places that I may have missed it.

There’s also a scene where a woman has a brief chat in Portuguese with Mia after a pregnancy-foreshadowing vomit-session, but as the version we watched had no subtitles I couldn’t glean what was said. Opinion over at the Bechdel Test website is divided, but I’m erring on the side of ‘nope.’

Tomorrow, it’s Fanboys vs Paul. God, I hope we get Fanboys, as I think I’m too emotionally fragile to put up with a film featuring a pot-smoking alien. If I wanted to look at one of those I’d buy myself a ‘Take Me to Your Dealer’ T-shirt.

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell 2011: Round two- Children of Men

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of Children of Men and his ‘Hell’ choice of (shudder) Transformers 3.

Tonight’s flip was tense, ladies and gents. Really, really tense. Children of Men had been recommended by people whose taste in movies we had a lot of respect for, and I love a sci-fi dystopia like Pete Doherty likes crack. Also, seeing as Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen depressed him for weeks, I really didn’t want Colin to have to endure Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon. If he hears his childhood hero Optimus Prime refer to ‘punk ass Decepticons’ again he will have a nervous breakdown and I’ll have to live with that. But we were lucky, for the second night in a row, which means there must be an epic fail right around the corner. Children of Men it is.

Allow me to set the scene- it’s 2027 and those butt-munches over at the Child-free Livejournals have had all their wildest dreams come true. Global female infertility means no children (sorry, ”screaming crotch-droppings”) are conceived for nearly two decades. Almost every country has fallen into anarchy and the youngest person on Earth has just been stabbed to death.

Britain, whilst ostensibly still functioning, is a police state. Enter our hero, office drone Theo (Clive Owen), who’s paid by his freedom fighter/terrorist ex-wife (Julianne Moore) to escort a pregnant refugee out of the country and to safety. Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is the first woman in the world to have a viable pregnancy in 18 years. She and her miracle baby would become political pawns to be fought over by the terrorists and the totalitarian state unless she leaves and joins a group of scientists called the Human Project, who are looking for the cure to infertility.

The near-future UK portrayed in Children of Men is perfectly realised and believable- there are subtle differences to the present, but no grand leaps in technology.  For example, people have slightly cooler computers and there are more tuktuks and electric cars due to petrol shortages. There’s also a lot more graffiti, and mean-looking riot cops on every street corner. Basically it’s like the present, except a bit shittier.

It’s not exactly as oppressive as 1984, but the government are working really hard to rival it. Adverts play on London buses urging people to grass up all illegal immigrants to the police, even if they’re members of the family. Refugees like Kee are rounded up herded into pens and sent to Bexhill-on-sea- now a highly fortified concentration camp (it’s also number 8 in the 2003 Top 10 Crap Towns, fact fans). They’re then treated with the level humanity and respect you’d imagine- the scenes in which Kee, Theo and a white person with dreadlocks (Pam Ferris) get bussed into the squalid camp are deliberately reminiscent of Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay.

For the non-foreigners inhabiting this grey unpleasant land, the government helpfully hands out euthanasia kits, so if the grinding despair of a miserable society without hope of a future gets a bit too much, you can quietly end it all in the comfort of your home. I see that as progress, although the temptation to use the suicide drugs during re-runs of My Super-Sweet Sixteen would be overwhelming. But if they screened that during the preggo crisis of 2027 people would suddenly remember that children occasionally turn into spoiled, over-entitled, shit-for-brained teenagers, and they wouldn’t feel so bad about not having them around anymore. Cloud, silver lining etc.

Shot on hand-held cameras, Children of Men looks like gritty newsreel footage from the heart of a genuine conflict zone, complete with long single shots and occasionally, blood on the lens. This adds to the believability of what you’re seeing, particularly in the climactic battles in Bexhill (which looks like it’s twinned with Beirut). The camera follows Clive Owen through shattered public buildings and derelict trains while terrified people cower and wail in their native languages as tanks shell them into oblivion. Much like authentic news footage, the camera never lingers on the atrocities, instead catching them in passing- women weeping over the corpses of their husbands, men with half a leg blown off. It’s powerful and compelling stuff, especially when there’s a young woman and the only baby in the entire world caught in the middle of it.

However, despite being exciting and brilliantly shot, Children of Men does have flaws. One major drag factor was the stars. Clive Owen is the cinematic equivalent of cheap white sliced bread that tastes of nothing- lots of people like it well enough but it’s ultimately unfulfilling, and you’d never choose it over a nice crusty loaf fresh out of the oven. Bread analogies aside, he was acted out of nearly every frame by the triple threat of Clare-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine (who seemed to be having the time of his life playing old hippie and weed connoisseur Jasper).

Casting glossy Julianne Moore as leader of a gang of crusties was also an error. Her costume may as well have been a sandwich board bearing the legend  ‘PLEASE WATCH THIS FILM, AMERICA’. I wasn’t convinced at all by her as the head of a terrorist cell, and her character’s relationship with Owen’s was trite, clichéd and annoying. But, her appearance is brief and the talented supporting cast means the film avoids being dubbed ‘Children of Meh’.

The other major flaw was that, despite having a great premise, the plot of Children of Men was sadly a little patronising, and as the film ended it felt like a wasted opportunity in some respects. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot in Children of Men I enjoyed, but it could have been so, so much better.

Imagine, instead of the grating ‘white hero saves the poor pregnant African’ angle, the story was from Kee’s perspective. That would’ve been awesome as opposed to just enjoyable. She’s literally the saviour of the human race so it would’ve been appropriate to see events unfolding through her eyes, maybe going back to the point she realised she was pregnant. But as established industry wisdom is that films starring black women don’t put bums on seats, we ended up with another everyman played by Box Office wallpaper. Thanks a bunch, Hollywood!

Up next for Movie Heaven & Movie Hell, acclaimed Brazilian drama City of God is going toe-to-toe with Fast Five (according to Wikipedia, the fifth Fast and the Furious film, not a command for a late 90s boy band to starve themselves. Thanks, I’ll be here all week, try the veal etc).

Which will we watch? Well it all depends on the turn of a coin…

Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell 2011: Round one- Sunset Boulevard

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of Sunset Boulevard and his ‘Hell’ choice of The ‘A’ Team Movie.

Fortunately for us, fate smiled and we got the noir classic.

We’ve had some bum runs during Heaven & Hell in the past, sacrificing a night of quality entertainment for tweenage vampire dross or try-hard stoner shenanigans. But finally, we lucked out, and won the flip for  Sunset Boulevard, which neither of us had seen. As it’s directed by Billy Wilder, who also helmed one of our all time favourites Some Like It Hot, we figured we’d be in safe hands, and anyone’s whose clapped eyes on me in the last 18 months knows my sartorial interest in the early 20th Century- so I’d at least get some eye candy and wardrobe inspiration.

The film’s narrated by all-round heel Joe Gillis (Wiliam Holden), who starts the proceedings by being dead face-down in a swimming pool like he’s been partying at Michael Barrymore’s.   He tells the story of the events leading up to his murder in flashback.

Joe’s a hack writer who is down on his luck. He’s behind on his rent and car payments, and a hot female reader at Paramount thinks his latest script is a lot of tot. Desperate to prevent the repo men taking his wheels, he hides his car in the garage of a faded mansion on Sunset Boulevard, inhabited by forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and her bullet-headed butler, Max (Erich von Stroheim).

Never one to pass up an opportunity, grifter Joe quickly manipulates Norma’s enormous ego, and she enlists him to edit a (terrible) script she’s been working on for her big comeback (“I hate that word. My return!”). She moves Joe into her home without asking his permission and  keeps him as a gigolo, much to his discomfort.

A gorgeous nightmare of arched eyebrows, turbans, clawed hands and snarling teeth, Norma’d be terrifying to run into on a moonless night. Her voice fluctuates between a hiss or malevolent growl, and she grabs your attention in the way that being locked in a room with an angry leopard would. She’s like a cross between the White Witch and a spider and her demeanour suggests she can eat men like Joe for breakfast. Her clothes are amazing and she’s crazy in the way the only the mega-rich can be. Needless to say, I have a huge crush on her.

But despite her fierce personality and formidable appearance, Norma is actually vulnerable, lonely, insecure, deluded and clingy. She lives in a fantasy world where she’s still adored by millions, the illusion aided by her butler, who drones out assurances of her stardom to anyone within earshot (“A maharaja traveled all the way from India to beg of her a silk stocking. He strangled himself with it.”). But this fantasy, like her pride, is frail as gossamer and when reality breaks through it’s to ruinous effect.

While not really a comedy, Sunset Boulevard has some great lines and is surprisingly morbid- at times, it almost feels like a classic horror movie. Despite being showered in gifts, Joe quickly begins to feel like a prisoner in the vast, empty mansion, full of looming shadows and rats in the pool, while Norma’s personality switches between Medusa and a lonely old cat lady in the blink of a heavily mascara’d eye.
Boasting cameos from huge stars of the silent era like Buster Keaton, and at times seeming quite close to the knuckle when it comes to Swanson and von Stroheim’s own careers, Sunset Boulevard is both poignant and keenly observed. Considering how fame obsessed the 21st Century is, it also feels really ahead of its time. In an era where we have people willing to eat a kangaroo anus on national television in order to put some shine back into their star, it’s  worth revisiting to see what a really classy celebrity comeback looks like.

So finally, a Heaven choice! Come back tomorrow and see what good/terrible movie we ended up sitting through tonight!

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell Day Three: Antichrist

This is an old review I never posted for some reason, but I recently discovered it in one of my folders at work. Enjoy!

Every couple of months or so, my husband and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between my ‘Heaven’ choice of Brick and his ‘Hell’ choice of Antichrist. Once again, the Devil wins out and we got saddled with Antichrist. This is what I thought of it…
Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) is a laugh-a-minute romp in the woods, tackling such lofty themes as the nature of evil, the loss of a child, and what it looks like to smack the Green Goblin in the testicles with a bit of wood and then wank him off until blood comes out.

The plot concerns an unnamed married couple, played by Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, with special guest appearances from the genitals of their porn body-doubles. After their son’s death, Defoe’s therapist character decides to take his wife to a remote cabin called Eden (I see what you did there) to treat her grief, mania and self-harm- despite the fact she has a crippling fear of the place. This cements his place in the annals of cinema as a total dingus who’s about to get what’s coming to him, much like the obese hacker who shuts down the electric fence in Jurassic Park and then meets Death in the novel guise of a fruity dinosaur.

At the maligned holiday home in the woods, there is much high-jinks as Defoe encounters terrifyingly over-wrought symbolism in the shape of animals self-mutilating or devouring their young. Meanwhile, Gainsbourg becomes more and more ker-azy and wants Defoe to bone her all the time (because she’s a WOMAN and according to her research all women are inherently evil mental cases that love the cock).  Much like a light-hearted buddy cop movie, their wildly different outlooks and personalities clash with hair-raising consequences. This culminates in Defoe’s cold, rational manner inducing in Gainsbourg the worst case of PMT committed to cinema. Hilarity ensues.

So controversial was Von Trier’s slapstick masterpiece that the Daily Mail, our self-appointed moral guardians, went into full-on pearl-clutching mode after its Cannes screening… without bothering to actually watch it first. Their hack Christopher Hart whined like an abused Chihuahua about the graphic sex scenes and grand guignol violence, and alleged this sick filth was paid for by UK taxpayers via EU funding of the Danish Film Council (spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Aren’t facts fun?). All this equated to a lot of newsprint and free publicity for an 18 rated, foreign art film, which is probably what lovable scamp Von Trier was aiming for.

This movie was on my ‘Hell’ list not because I thought it would be badly made, but because I’m cowardly when it comes to ‘harsh’ movies that put their audience through the wringer (which is why I’ve never seen the reportedly excellent Funny Games). I was also worried about the reported torture-porn and misogyny, as Von Trier, like Alfred Hitchcock, seems to delight in making movies where the lead actress is horribly menaced on-screen.

Despite my reservations, however, I’m glad we watched Antichrist as it was an interesting movie, albeit one that caused much beard-stroking and head-scratching for us. Mainly, I can’t figure out what the over-arching idea behind the film was- does Von Trier sincerely hate women as much as the the core message implies, or is it about something bigger than a hysterical and violent war between the sexes? Or is he just trolling through the medium of art-house cinema? There’s evidence for and against all three stories, so instead of wasting my time and yours going into a tedious film studies lecture, I’ll tell you what I liked and disliked.

Firstly, Charlotte Gainsbourg gives a brave, unselfconscious performance as her character alternates between vulnerability and viciousness. I believe she won a Best Actress award at Cannes for this movie and it was well-deserved as I don’t doubt this was a difficult role.

Secondly, the film was well shot and atmospheric, with moments of real, unsettling dread. Also, while violent, it wasn’t as graphic as certain sensitive souls made it out to be- I didn’t really see what all the hoo-hah was about. Yes, the ending has some pretty gnarly moments including the infamous self-mutiliation of Gainsbourg’s vulva, but they’re very brief and the film builds to them. There are far nastier movies out there depicting constant, unending ugliness, mutilation and cruelty. I’m sure viewers who watched Antichrist in the hope of some Saw-style extravagant torture-porn would have been disappointed.

Thirdly, I liked the cock-in-cunt action in the prologue and all the people up in arms about that obviously don’t have an internet connection. Seriously, it’s the 21st Century,  and if you’re watching Antichrist you’re most likely an adult. There is nothing shocking about an erect penis going into a lady’s vagina if it’s an 18 rated movie with sexuality as it’s major theme. Admittedly, I’ve never had sex quite as pretentiously as these two and their stunt-junk did, but I’m willing to give it a try if it means a toddler falls out of a window in glorious black and white like he’s in a Three Stooges movie.

Now onto the dislikes. The symbolism, for one thing. Good fucking God, he loves a bit of symbolism, does Lars, to the point where the sheer amount of heavy-handed metaphor became evidence that he really was doing it for the lulz after all. The moment where a fox utters the snappy one-liner “CHAOS REIGNS” is particularly ridiculous. Von Trier knows his art-house cliches he must have known how silly this was.

And then there’s the troubling women-hating streak, and I’m afraid that, whether his tongue was firmly in his cheek or not, Von Trier definitely has a case to answer, seeing as the whole movie revolves around the concept that women might be, ya know, pure evil. But at least he’s up-front about his fear of fannies, and doesn’t just relegate his female character to be an accessory to the male lead, like so many mainstream directors.  Which is refreshingly honest- you can at least look at a Lars Von Trier film and go “yep, he’s a misogynist, all right.” It’s a bit like meeting a guy in the pub wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “IT’S NOT GOING TO SUCK ITSELF” with an arrow pointing at his crotch. “Yep, he’s a dickhead, all right.”

So in conclusion, an interesting if misogynistic film, that raised more questions than it answered. Definitely not a date movie.

COMING SOON: More Movie Heaven and Movie Hell! It’s cinematic Russian Roulette!

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Movie Hell Day Two: Dude, Where’s My Car?

Every couple of months or so, my fiance and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between Colin’s ‘Heaven’ choice of La Vie En Rose and my ‘Hell’ choice of Dude, Where’s My Car?

Dude, Where’s My Car?, like Ronseal Quick-drying Wood Stain, does exactly what it says on the tin. It follows the adventures of Jesse (Ashton Kutcher, last seen under Demi Moore) and Chester (Seann William Scott, last seen under a bridge waiting for the billy goats gruff) as they attempt to locate the titular missing vehicle.

Jesse and Chester are the bargain basement Bill and Ted, and in some ways Dude, Where’s My Car? is similar to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, in that there’s an element of science fiction and Ashton Kutcher seems to be channelling a young Keanu Reeves (whether that’s a compliment is up to you).

Casting Seann William Scott was a huge boon to the Kutcher, because there’s something about Scott that is incredibly unpleasant. He leers his way through Dude, Where’s My Car? like a grotesque Tex Avery cartoon character, thus achieving the near impossible feat of making Ashton Kutcher likable and pleasant to watch.

Maybe it’s because we’d played Monkey Island for an hour before hand, but halfway through the film, my fiancé points out that Dude, Where’s My Car? is panning out like a point-and-click adventure game, with the Poundstretcher Cheech and Chong adding items to their inventory, moving between the limited locations and talking to characters to try and piece together the mystery of where Jesse’s car is. If this came out in 1990 and was a PC game by LucasArts, it would be fantastic.

Dude, Where’s My Car? is very much aimed at a juvenile audience- and when I say juvenile, I mean “probably not potty trained”. As a result of this, it’s a stoner movie with no drugs, breasts are referred to as “hoo-hoos”, and the most risqué joke they can get away with is a shot of a transsexual stripper’s panty-bulge.

I’m hesitant to be completely damning of Dude, Where’s My Car? Okay, it’s a comedy film that I thought was hugely unfunny, but I’m not the target audience. twelve year old boys are, and I’m sure they’d find it hilarious.

Next time: Brick VERSUS Antichrist
Winner: Antichrist

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 7:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Movie Heaven & Hell Day One: Twilight

Every couple of months or so, my fiance and I play a game called Movie Heaven & Movie Hell- in which we each pick 7 movies we’d love to watch, and 7 films we think will be terrible, then flip a coin to decide which one we’re watching. Yesterday, it was between Colin’s ‘Heaven’ choice of The Maltese Falcon and my ‘Hell’ choice of Twilight. Unfortunately, Twilight won…

Having read (and hated) half of the Mormon fanfic… I mean bestselling supernatural romance Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, I was all geared up to hate the movie, too. And boy, was I not disappointed! But first, a brief synopsis of what can loosely be called the plot:

The story revolves around 16 year old Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart), who moves from Arizona to the rainy little town of Forks in the Pacific Northwest to live with her father.

Bella is a miserable and monosyllabic teenager, but for reasons which aren’t explained, everyone in Forks thinks she’s awesome. It’s like her pussy is made of catnip or something, and it’s just one of many unintentionally creepy things about Twilight. It’s almost reminiscent of Dogville– everyone loves Bella and are so eager to please her, right down to the waitress in the local diner, that you begin to wonder about their motives. Of course, the real reason for Bella’s inexplicable popularity is that the character is a dreadful Mary Sue.

Despite grunting her way through conversations and barely cracking a smile, Bella becomes toast of the town, quickly making friends some nice but utterly two-dimensional kids. However, these new buddies fade into the background when she claps eyes on Edward Sullen… I mean Cullen.

A smouldering and well coiffed fop in her biology class, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and his incestuous (seriously) siblings are all gorgeous, well blow-dried and appear to be wearing a too much foundation. One of them, Jasper, is particularly hilarious- what the actor clearly thinks is an expression of restraint and barely contained hunger looks more like he’s trying to poop out a Cornish game hen. But, I digress.

After being a total fuckhead to Bella for the first half of the film, Edward miraculously saves her from being crushed by a van, and thus romance blossoms between two scowling and inarticulate teenagers. In that respect, I guess Twilight is quite realistic- apart from the fact that Edward and his gel-abusing family are actually vampires. Sparkly vampires. That play baseball. But more on that later.

Yup, the whey-faced Cullens may be vampires, but I like to refer to them as Vinos- Vampires In Name Only. Their bloodlust is downplayed to the point of non-existence, and they live as a happy yuppie family in a fancy glass condo.

In fact, vampires in Twilight seem to benefit from all the perks of vampirism with none of the downsides. Edward is immortal, eternally young and handsome, strong, fast and psychic. He can also venture into daylight without spontaneously combusting, doesn’t have to drink human blood, and doesn’t have fangs. Despite his assertions to the contrary, from a supernatural perspective, there’s nothing whatsoever monstrous about Edward (except his personality, but we’ll cover that later).

As you can probably guess from above, as a vampire movie, Twilight sucks. It sucks great big hairy werewolf balls. Memo to Stephanie Meyer: being a vampire, despite the power and eternal life, is supposed to be a lonely and tortured existence, living as a parasite on the on the fringes of society that you rely on but can never be a part of. Gary Oldman in Dracula, Lina Leandersson in Let The Right One In, and Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire portray the terrible burdens of undeath with great eloquence. However, as hard as Twilight fails to be an effective vampire film, it fails in epic fashion to be romantic.

The gender politics in Twilight has been extensively critiqued by smarter and more articulate feminists than me, but it’s safe to say that to any sane viewer, male or female, Edward Cullen acts like Ted Bundy. Throughout proceedings, he’s seriously just one step away from dancing in the nip to ‘Goodbye Horses’ and keeping Bella in a well. For the first half of the movie, he’s a total dick to her, then proceed to stalk her when she’s out with friends, sneaks into her bedroom, frightens her by driving like a twat, and then finally drags her into the woods to terrify her with his true bloodsucking nature and overuse of body glitter.

Bella’s reaction to his behaviour is equally loco. When Edward tells her that he’s a killer (while they’re alone, in the dank and dripping woods), her reaction is that it doesn’t matter. Let’s say that again for the hard of thinking- she doesn’t care one bit that her boyfriend is an admitted serial killer. This is a girl whose dad is a cop, for crying out loud! It’s like she left her sense of self-preservation in Arizona, along with her self-esteem and the ability to form complete sentences. If I’d been in her shoes I’d have pepper-sprayed Edward and kicked him in his sparkly disco balls.

Anyway, having decided that she is “irrevocably” in love with her violent and humourless suitor, whatever little independence and spirit Bella has rapidly evaporates as she lets Edward control her life. This is probably intended to be romantic (gosh and golly, he’s her personal white knight!) but the reality is, again, profoundly creepy. Witness as he shoves her into cars, darkly suggests that he might kill her, and, when her life is threatened by the bad vampires who show up to crash the Cullen baseball game (lol wut) he forces her to verbally abuse her father and run away from home. All under the guise of “protecting” her.

Romantic movies, whether their endings are happy (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), bittersweet (Casablanca) or tragic (Moulin Rouge), rely on the chemistry between the leads to sizzle, and a certain zest for life. In Twilight, both are conspicuous in their absence. The washed out colour palette sucks the life out of the film more effectively than the vampires. The mood is glum, depressing and grey. Pattinson and Stewart’s romance fails to sparkle like Edward’s hairless torso, their relationship consisting of incoherent mumbling and long stares across a car park. Love is supposed to evoke joy and there is no joy whatsoever in Twilight.

From what I’ve read of the book, Catherine Hardwick’s movie is a faithful adaptation- perhaps a little too faithful. Like the novel, the film is over-long, with nothing much happening, and the script is awkward and doesn’t flow. There were also at least half a dozen characters that are completely superfluous to the story- such as Edward’s bouffant family and two out of the three evil vampires who are menacing Forks in a somewhat half-assed way.

The only positive thing I can say about this movie is it makes Washington State look gorgeous and atmospheric- fans of Twin Peaks or Alan Wake will get a little tingle in their toes at the fly-over shots of roads winding through fir trees and downtown Forks- it’s like meeting an old friend.

Although not the worst film I have ever seen, Twilight left me bored at its’ story and incredulous at its’ success. How could a movie so plodding, joyless and dull be the phenomenon it’s become? Surely it can’t all be to do with Robert Pattinson’s cheekbones? There are 40 year old women at my work have seen it at least a dozen times- I find it genuinely baffling.

If you’re looking for supernatural romance, then dig out the Buffy box set- the characters are likable, the vampires are as complex as they are monstrous, the love affair has chemistry, and the female lead doesn’t set feminism back 40 years.

Tonight’s Heaven or Hell- La Vie En Rose VERSUS Dude, Where’s My Car?

Winner: Dude, Where’s My Car?

Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm  Comments (3)  

Some poetry

I was rather bored at work today so I decided to try and write a poem with the same structure as ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost.

This is the best I could come up with. I might use it in a longer piece at some point.

Our house is vast and filled with lies,
Whispered voices and heavy sighs,
There is no space for humans here;
Our house a face, its windows eyes.

Blue lights that flash, the sirens blare,
The neighbours huddle, and point, and stare,
Hushed rumours of the great disgrace
That you and I are forced to share.

You say you want to leave this place,
Vexation etched upon your face.
“I’ll plummet from the tallest wall!”
You run upstairs and I give chase.

On misted glass I see you scrawl
Your diatribe against us all,
No warning comes before the fall,
Not warning comes before the fall.

Published in: on October 19, 2009 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment