Monday, 31 January 2005
Nugget: a bit of an uneven film, but very touching in parts, especially Maya's speech about what she likes about wine. It's very funny, but I wasn't always laughing when I was supposed to, perhaps because much of the rest of the film is so poignant. Something a little different, with perhaps a dash of rosemary.
* Pathetic in the sense of "full of pathos", rather than "pathetic" in the sense of shite.
Sunday, 30 January 2005
Nugget: same old, same old, but in a new skin. He'll never shed it, nor should he.
Saturday, 29 January 2005
Apparently, there's a world shortage of Fairy liquid at the moment. Most of Asia's washing up on the beach.
Sunday, 23 January 2005
Nugget: a rather unsatisfying and not-so-scary movie. The premise was good, but Leigh Whannell's screenplay crashed and burned a little.
Nugget: snappy dialogue and great visuals, really capturing the confusing feel and metonymic snatches of things that you see on a night out.
Tuesday, 18 January 2005
This ranks amongst my top films of the year and offered up more riches on a second viewing, like jiggling the pennies out of a piggy bank. Yet it still sounds as if there are more tinkling inside. Kaufman and Gondry ragbag between them some profound insights on memories - good and bad - and the uncanny metaworld of the deja-vu.
Nugget: Joel (Carrey, before undergoing the procedure): "Is there any risk of brain damage?"
Howard (Wilkinson,* the Doctor): "Well, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage, but on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you'll miss."
* Any thoughts you may have of former Leeds United and England caretaker managers is purely coincidental: a side-effect of Lacuna's techniques. Presumably they went on to manufacture "the flashy thing" for those MiB.
Monday, 17 January 2005
Sunday, 16 January 2005
The football action sequences are a little actorish and the plot arc more than a little familiar. I don't know if these films help to dispell stereotypes or merely reinforce them. Probably just a harmless evening's entertainment.
Nugget: I've seen this movie so many times before, even though it was the first time I've seen it, if you see what I mean.
Saturday, 15 January 2005
Things get a little too weird, making plot description a worthless exercise. I went into this film not knowing much about it, apart from that it was recommended. I had seen the trailers, and thought it looked a bit oddball, a bit like Garden State. It didn't quite turn out like that: it isn't really a fair comparison. Nevertheless, it supplies just as many laughs, particularly from the superb performance by Mark Wahlberg (Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights), who plays Albert's "other", Tommy Corn, a post-9/11 fireman who denies he's a "hero".
Writer/Director David O. Russell's screenplay has the same off-the-wall quality as Charlie Kaufman's works. Somehow, as it teeters on a tightrope above incomprehensibility, it finds a moment of absolute clarity, when you think you know exactly what it's getting at. On the page, I imagine it would just make the mind boggle; on the screen, it is motion picture magic.
Nugget: features Isla Fisher (Shannon from Aussie soap opera Home and Away) as the new face of Huckabees, once Naomi Watts starts to dress down on purpose.
Wednesday, 12 January 2005
Tried going shoe shopping yesterday. Went to a few shops in town (about three), looking for a pair of gutties, skate shoes or something retro, something I could wear everyday with everything. Packed it in quite swiftly because I figured nowhere else would have anything that I liked in my size. They seem to think that mingin' black and red Vans suit everyone my size. We're not all metal skaterboys who only wear black jeans and Morbid Angel tees.*
My current Cons have been given that daily treatment and are looking a bit out of puff after 15 months on the go. There's a hole about two and a half inches long, which gives my right pinky toe plenty of breathing space. There have also been worn away bits of cloth at my heals for much longer than that.
I did get summat in the end, but had to use our old geekfriend, t'internet. In the unlikely event that you want to be like me, you can copy my "style" below.
* Thanks to my brother for providing the stereotype and my sister, Laura, for the illustration.
Tuesday, 11 January 2005
Yeth! I got my reply from Pot Noodle after the letter I sent them.
Pot Noodle Consumer Care
17 December 2004
Dear Mr Whalen
I was delighted to learn how pleased you are with an 89g pack of Chicken & Mushroom flavour Pot Noodle.
We spend a great deal of time and effort in trying to create products that deliver great results and that our consumers will enjoy using, so it is always nice to receive such positive feedback.
I will make sure your comments are passed on to the Marketing Manager concerned and I am sure they will be delighted to get your feedback.
We value your feedback and hope you will accept the enclosed as a gesture of goodwill.
Consumer Care Advisor
1 x Unilever Foods Coupon £3
Not as funny as Guest's earlier films, Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman; but it features some great original folk songs, written and performed by the cast. Some of the lines work better on paper. Perhaps a second viewing would do it.
Nugget: Lars Olfen, a Swedish TV producer for PBN, in the meeting with Jonathan Steinbloom, the coordinator of the gig, An Ode to Irving: "The naches that I'm feeling right now... 'cause your dad was like mishpoche to me. When I heard I got these ticket to the Folksmen, I let out a geshreeyeh, and I'm running with my friend...running around like a vilde chaye, right into the theater, in the front row! So we've got the schpilkes, 'cause we're sittin' right there...and it's a mizvah, what your dad did, and I want to try to give that back to you. Okeinhoreh, I say, and God bless him."
Crystal's plays Mitch Robbins, depressed at his looming mortality, unispiring job selling "air" (air time) for radio commercials, and his stagnant marriage. Cue multiple Red Man Club and coming-of-age moments. There are a few saving graces, such as lines like, "Women need a reason for having sex, men just need a place." But overall, Director Ron Underwood allows far too much schmaltz to stick the rather episodic plot together. Don't expect fireworks; just mild entertainment and a few giggles.
Nugget: look out for a very young Jake Gyllenhaal (he being Donnie Darko) playing Billy Crystal's son.
Sunday, 9 January 2005
The film's symphonic movements trace life in time and space from the Dawn of Man to Beyond the Infinite. An obscure, black monolith and the most famous cut in cinema history connect the apeman's discovery of the weapon and future man's high technology. The bone was the first weapon, the first technology, and enabled the apes to stand on two feet, defend territory and kill animals for meat. By the time of the Jupiter Mission, the spaceship's onboard computer, HAL, has become so intelligent and self-dependent that he makes the autonomous decision to take over the mission, betraying how much our lives are in the hands of our own technological creations.
Kubrick really forces the viewer to think and feel his images. This remains one of the most physical experiences of cinema I've ever had. When Bowman (Keir Dullea) ventures out to investigate a reported fault with the transmitter, his breathing on the soundtrack coerces you to breathe in time with him, like the feeling you get when you lie next to someone who's already asleep. The images are so vast and, at times, so slow-moving that your eye is compelled to explore the whole canvas of the screen. And the famous musical soundtrack featuring "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the "Blue Danube" waltz by the Strausses are marvellously incorporated, if a little strange, given all the postmodern treatment they have been given in countless spoofs and re-employments.
Nugget: I wish I'd seen this in the cinema when it was re-released in 2001. It would be awesome* on IMAX!
* Note how I only use the word "awesome" when I mean it as "powerful in a scary way; almost god-like".
Moore's film, three years in the making, and which won him an Oscar, demonstrates that activism can bring results. When he visits Wal-Mart headquarters with two of the victims of the Columbine shootings to show them the bullet wounds caused by merchandise bought at Wal-Mart stores, the PR department gets back to them the next day and announces that they will be withdrawing all lines of firearms ammunition withing 90 days. Moore goes on to visit Charlton Heston, the figurehead of the pro-gun National Rifle Association, at his home in Beverly Hills to confront him on why his organisation held rallies just days after the shootings in Littleton, Colorado and Flint, Michigan (Moore's home town, where a six-year-old kid was shot dead by a classmate in Buell Elementary School). The resulting interview will leave you flabbergasted.
Nugget: Moore at his very best: finding humour in such a troubling subject. Canada and its people come out of this very well: even the juvenile deliquents who skip school in order to hang out at their local Taco Bell are charming.
Moore has a brilliant editing technique in which he juxtaposes images of run down and abandoned neighbourhoods with upbeat comments by the wealthy, making them seem heartless and hypocritical. He really brings out the ruthlessness of industrial capitalism; but it's the nature of corporations not to hold anyone responsible for their actions. Moore tries to portray Roger Smith as a baddie, but it isn't really his fault. His main responsibilities are to the profit-hungry shareholders, who are actually just you and me, or anyone with pensions and mortgages.
Nugget: worthwhile watching, despite its datedness, just to remind you that things haven't changed all that much in fifteen years; and to see how Moore's directing career started out.
Friday, 7 January 2005
There are some great songs, such as "Tomorrow", "So You Wanna Be a Boxer?" and "Bad Guys". Parker marshalls his cast brilliantly. Apparently, they all woalked around on set listening to the songs on headphones whenever they weren't shooting so that they became comfortable miming along to them.
This was one of my favourite films as a wain - and is still one now that I'm a slighly bigger wain. The jokes and references to the gangster flicks of the 30s are aimed more at adults (Foster has some great one-lines); but the pedal cars and splurge fights keep the kids bopping along.
Nugget: "Everybody loves that man, Bugsy Malone."
Patrick Swayze atones somewhat for his 80s fuckass movies with a perfect character acting role as Jim Cunningham, a self-help neo-evangelist, preaching his own gospel of Love not Fear. Drew Barrymore is Donnie's English teacher, who tells a new female student to sit next to whoever she thinks is the cutest boy in the class. The private school PTA palpably hums with Republican values.
Writer/director Richard Kelly creates some startling cinematic beauty, right from the opening shots when Donnie wakes up in the middle of the road, on top of a hill somewhere in Virginia (or near Washington D.C. anyway - they watch a Redskins game on the TV). He plays with timelapse and computer animation, and relies on a subtle soundtrack to set the tone.
Nugget: the Director's Cut has recently been released. I haven't seen it; but I don't think you should try to retouch a movie that is so sweetly balanced. It's a thing of beauty.
Especially as things are backward. The whole movie plays in reverse, with intercut scenes in black and white in which Leonard explains his condition and all about Sammy Jankis, remember Sammy Jankis. Five minutes or so of film goes forward, then it cuts back to five minutes before that. It starts to seem to make sense when you figure out how the scenes overlap. You know what happens, but you only learn the characters' back stories in small increments. You're as ignorant and malleable as the memory deficient protagonist.
A special hidden feature on the DVD replays the whole film in chronological order, yet it still doesn't quite make sense. There are gaps in the plot too. No wonder it messes up your head! Writer/Director Christopher Nolan did wonders with the premise of his brother's short story, which is also on the DVD. Only really the concept of short-term memory loss is carried over. Dody Dorn's film editing is testament to Eisenstein's age old theory that film meaning is all about montage.
Nugget: well worth multiple viewings (in both directions), but it will never have the same impact as the first time round.
Thursday, 6 January 2005
Each episode offers a different perspective on the soldiers' lives: from a lieutenant on D-Day, to the ostracized replacements, to the medic struggling for supplies and the intelligence officer who finds outs in Germany that his wife is divorcing him and is even taking the dog.
The excellent bonus material includes an extended documentary featuring interviews with many of the veterans. No matter what you think about war in theory, you cannot help but admire these remarkable men and what they went through. The attention to detail in the making of this is astounding. There is much more space and time in a TV mini-series to develop the characters and their sense of solidarity than there ever could be in a feature film. The only thing that lets it down - despite the trumpeting - is the heavy use of special effects, which, particularly in the D-Day episode, look fake. Besides that, the visuals are great: hand-held cameras in the trenches, grainy footage, bleached colours - all creating a sense of hyper-reality.
Nugget: up there with the very best of war movies: Paths of Glory, Platoon, and We Were Soldiers.
Monday, 3 January 2005
Theron gives a career best performance and Ricci provides strong support. Both of them are likeable: the film goes some way to explaining how and why all these murders occurred - if not fully excusing them. The "monster" of the title refers to how Aileen has been damaged so that she chokes on the things that should be easy and enjoyable (loving, or riding a ferris wheel) and barely hesitates to commit acts of evil. Aileen is a human monster, however: her actions are not entirely her fault: they are a result of how she has been mistreated and the misfortunes she has suffered.
Both Selby and Aileen are lost souls: banished by their families and unrealistic in their aspirations, drunk on the liquor of love.
Nugget: we need more films by women such as writer/director Patty Jenkins.