Friday, November 16, 2007

The Case for Living Death

“Directors Month” saw me going to watch the latest of Quentin Tarantino’s flims, Deathproof. Originally conceived as part of a double feature of 70s action flick inspired films, Deathproof is the “uncut” single movie version. And, to be honest, it suffers for its separation and subsequent “lengthening”.

At least, I assume it has been lengthened. Because, for an action movie, there is surprisingly little action. Tarantino’s traditional snappy dialogue is provided in abundance, at the expense of the stunts and action. A 45 minute set up for the first action sequence is rewarded with 10 minutes of actual action, and then another hour set up ensues followed by about 20 minutes of action. And the set up is not really that engrossing, to be honest.

The first set up was the more interesting, even with a directorial cameo. Tarantino seemed more focussed on sticking with the 70s cheap flick ethos, with grainy footage and terrible sound, that he kind of gave up with for most of the second part. The first part also felt more Tarantino-esque, with very quirky characters and ridiculous topics of conversation taken deeply and discussed in depth.

Part two seemed to function more as a highlight on Zoe Bell. An incredible stunt woman, I am not so convinced by her acting. But I also think my own “Kiwi aversion” prejudices came through. The “where are you from?” section really grated with me as I could see exactly where things were going and thought – in my opinion – that trail is actually not one that NZers tend to follow. Flight of the Conchords makes fun of the fact NZers are fairly monotone and rather unexcitable, so I always find NZers being portrayed as more excitable “Americans playing NZers” painful to watch.

At any rate, the dialogue in part two really drags. After being tantalised with action at the end of part one, the return to general inactivity is a huge disappointment. There are some amusing and interesting exchanges – this is a Tarantino film – but by this stage I had enough of the talk and wanted more with the action. And during some of the more dragged out dialogues (following the “oh yes you did”, “oh no I didn’t” kind of format), I was searching for the reading light so I could get into my book and come back to the movie when things got interesting again.

It ends on a girl power high and regains its 70s cheesy movie feel, so it ends well. But the end was a frightfully long time coming.

Verdict: The film may be Deathproof, but there are some parts where I felt it slipped into a coma. Or I did. Three bullets out of a six-shooter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Case for the Queen

Actually... no case needs to be made in this instance.

For who in their right mind could possibly say no to the incredible Queen Latifah?
A real woman touting beauty products on the telly? The apocalypse must be nigh. But I am going to enjoy it...

Verdict: Long Live the Queen

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Case for Lynch Land

Well. What can I say? I knew what I was in for.

I love David Lynch films. They are imaginative, use strange camera techniques, incredible actors, and I always come out enjoying the experience. Not that I have any idea what most of this movies mean or can explain the plot… if there is one.

Inland Empire was another excellent addition to his list of incomprehensible yet beautiful works (including Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway). There were more unusual moviemaking techniques, such as extreme and uncomfortable close ups; grainy footage; spot lighting with flashlights, dark and disturbing scene lighting and music. The actors, especially an amazing turn by Laura Dern, all performed amazingly given the incredible circumstances and situations in which they found themselves. And imaginative – well, how else can one describe a film that seems, in the final analysis, to make next to no sense whatsoever, even if the director claims there is some… somewhere?

With David Lynch films, meaningful expressions and the mundane (yet actually incredibly meaningful) dialogue (or monologues; or silences) replace the action and oh-so-clever encounters of other films. This makes the choice of actors that much more important, and Lynch seems to both pick incredible actors and get them to perform to the best of their ability, such as Laura Dern, whose most incredible moments involve her just recounting stories to camera under the harshest lighting and looking ragged and beaten. Other familiar faces , like Jeremy Irons and Mary Steenburgen, show up, but this is Dern’s film – well, as much as it can be anyone’s other than Lynch’s.

Story-wise. Well, impossible to recall. But I both loved and was freaked out by the bunnies. I can’t explain it, you really need to see it.

Actually, that was what I was going to say to cover off this film. “I can’t explain it; you need to experience it”. But my verbosity has got the better of me. Because I liked it.

Verdict: Definitely not for everyone, but for those who love Lynch, definitely a large slice of cherry pie with some mighty fine coffee as black as midnight on a moonless night.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Case for Aliens 2

A wee while ago now (back in September), I promised to mention a trip to Stonehenge Aotearoa. The image below is actually from their website, and an amazing site it is too.
Nestled in the hills of the Wairarapa, this Antipodean Edifice stands watching the southern skies, observing in its calculating way the passage of the seasons, the months and the years, but sun and by star and by moon.

And by ALIENS.

Yes, this wee New Age, Old Age, Druidical enclave does in fact appear to be home to a nest of the Alien enamoured (or, as we could also call them Extra Terrestrial Collaborators. or ETCs). That is, of course, assuming that any humans involved in the project are actually still conscious and have not had their bodies taken over in a case of intergalactic possession, or are not just mindless automatons controlled by remote telepathy.
The people (ETCs?) who greeted us on our trip to Stonehenge seemed utterly lovely. However, we were not allowed to go and view the site itself as there was a gang of touring bikers there at the same time and they had taken all the places on the tour for that morning. Whenever I hear of one group of people controlling an event to the exclusion of others, I start thinking alien conspiracy.
However, try as they might, those alien entities still give the game away. Perhaps their highly advanced mental faculties have not excluded them from the sin of pride, or else they revel in games of psychological torture by leaving only tantalising clues of their secret existence on our planet, but on the driveway to the stone circle lies this small statue, guarding the entrance way to the alien subether relay station or Intergalatic Petroleum station or whatever Stonehenge Aoteroa might actually be. It appears to be made of stone or concrete, but perhaps this is actually the state of an alien hitchhiker in suspended animation, waiting for the next rocket truck to come along this particular interstellar highway.

Whatever its true insidious nature, it can't help but be unnaturally insidious.

The aliens are out there. And news from Hollywood is that they are making another X-Files film - another sure sign of an alien conspiracy, for those of us who are watching...

Verdict: They get more and more bold as the decades roll by, until finally...