Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The offerings at the local cineplexes disappointed me this week (well, that and a course foiled my regular filmatic outing) and so I chose instead to indulge in the “classics”, one I had procured only days earlier: Don Juan de Marco.
There is not a huge amount of depth as it is not really that kind of film, and it’s not that long a movie either. But, even about ten years after seeing it for the first time and finding myself enraptured, I was still delighted by the movie, even if the ending did seem a bit weak to my aged and jaded sensibilities.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Any of you who know my music collection will know I have very little shame. So it is about time that I finally announce that, yes, I am now addicted to the Gilmore Girls. The lovely S got me started, JudgeNot encouraged me, and now I have that damned Carol King opening theme song on "continuous playback" in my brain (as it has been for the past few hours), and it is torturing me into revealing my unexpressed addiction.
And why should I not? Last night, with the final few episodes of season two, I experienced some truly wonderful moments of pop cultural referencing and the truly bizarre: the whole "Oi with the poodles" exchange; the disturbing, yet usable, "I am so lonely that not even Animal Planet does it for me anymore"; and of course, another one from Kurt, his short filmatic debut (brilliant).
Of course, it can't all be brilliant dialogue featuring an eclectic blend of non-sequiturs and biting rebuttals, but the writing makes the more... melodramatic bits worth it. In other words, while the show makes no ground when it comes to plot development, it definitely breaks ground when it comes to the number of times British television shows and alternative rock groups can be mentioned in what is an otherwise mainstream television drama.
Do I sound like I am trying to justify myself? Yes, I think I do. Well, I shall stop it as there is really nothing to feel apologetic for. The show is damned good. Now, if only I can get that theme song out of my mind...
Verdict: Wonderful writing makes Gilmore Girls a brilliant show. Strange to think I am closer to Lorelai in age than Rory though... 4 pots of strong coffee out of 5.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The premise of Lars and the Real Girl is silly enough that C4 have taken to mocking it, and that it might seem to be more in the ilk of Superbad than a movie with any real emotional depth. But that is not the case.
Ryan Gosling plays the titular Lars, a painfully shy guy who hates being touched and prefers his own company, though he still goes to church. Then one day, he tells his brother and pregnant sister in law that he has brought home an internet girlfriend, and introduces them to Bianca, his life size silicon doll. The doll, it is quickly determined, is probably a crutch that he is (subconsciously) using to work through issues he currently has, so his relatives and the townsfolk in the small Alaskan village are asked to play along. And most do, besides those who think he is completely barking mad.
It sounds silly. And from time to time, especially with the “played for laughs” efforts made by the town to “accept” Bianca, it is. But despite that, the film is wonderful.
Gosling gets a lot of credit for playing the “damaged” Lars, but I reckon equal praise (if not more) should go to the supporting cast for playing the “normal” townsfolk in a completely believable and sympathetic way. In particular, Paul Schneider (as Lars’ brother Gus Lindstrom), Emily Mortimer (as Karin) and the always amazing Patricia Clarkson (as Doctor Dagmar) all act as credible anchors to the incredible main character(s). Paul Schneider in particular stands out, as showing emotional depth in a character designed to be every inch a “bloke” has got to be tough, but somehow he does it beautifully.
The packed Bergman theatre at the Paramount Cinema obviously loved the film as much as I did. We laughed, we occasionally sniffed, and we were all entranced. Believe the hype: this is a good film, though I am not sure it would be quite as enjoyable on a repeat viewing.
Verdict: Lars and the Real Girl is a wonderfully warm film, especially considering it all happens in the bleak Alaskan winter. There are some excesses with the townsfolk “buy in”, but then (I have to remind myself) this is a movie, not a documentary. Nine inflatable dolls out of ten.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Recently I made a bargain basement DVD purchase and picked myself up a copy of that ludicrous television series from the 1970s, Space: 1999. You know the one: on the 13th of September, 1999, Martin Landau leads an international team of moonies as a nuclear explosion pushes our planetary companion out of orbit and off into the far reaches of space, with the moon occasionally travelling faster than light (to cover the interstellar differences) and then mercifully slowing to take in the scenery of the star systems they pass on the way. With special effects from the Gerry Anderson fold and outfits most decidedly from the 1970s, it was definitely a product of its time.
But, looking back, one thing that now fascinates me is the underlying ethos that comes through in the series. It's completely hippie. There are explosions galore, but when it comes to the characters and some of the underlying themes of the show, it's all about transcendental meditation, joss sticks and high human ideals, including responsibility for actions of the past. Very enlightened.
And it got me to thinking. Where has that thought of thinking gone? Compare this with the most incredible Sci Fi show of this decade, the new Battlestar Galactica, and witness how we view things now: not as a rosy future to be embraced and mistakes taken and dealt with, but more as an age much like now, rife with hatreds and prejudice and incredibly hot babes, where sins of the past come back to punish us. Very different.
When did we get so pessimistic? The positivity of the hippie 1970s, that the world could be a better, greener place by 1999 (though putting all the nuclear waste on the moon did have some negative side effects) seems to have been replaced by a much more negative, defeatist outlook. A "Bob the Builder" attitude seems to have given way to a bit of hand-wringing and battling each other rather than dealing with the bigger problems.
So what happened? The 1980s and the "me" decade, I reckon. The idealism of the commune of hippies saving the world was replaced by the me first mentality. And I think the problem is, as a society, we can never go back from that way of thinking. We still have some hippies left, fighting the good, idealistic fight, completely sure of their moral compass and living a "good" life as that is true to their moral beliefs, but they are rare. But they tend to battle alone.
It's a shame really. Though, if they had their way, we would no longer have a moon to guide us at night.
Verdict: Sci Fi has come a long way, from the light towards the darkness. Or from the hokey towards the damned good. Whichever way you want to see it. Space: 1999 gets 3 Eagles out of 5 for its sheer... self, and the new Battlestar Galactica gets 7 Vipers out of 5 for being so damned good, though it will be interesting to see how they end it...