Thursday, September 24, 2009

Film festival -- after action

  • From Russia with Love... -- filling a gap in my viewing with this relic of a more innocent age : "Mr Bond, this suitcase contains a throwing knife, a tear-gas grenade, a folding sniper rifle, twenty rounds for same and 50 gold sovereigns. Your mission is to get this onto your flight to Istanbul."; and cut to new scene rather than spending many tedious minutes in fumblings and gaspings.

    So, even though Bond is the fairly archetypical faceless and sketchy eroge self-insert protagonist, Connery pulls it off with style, and fires his Checkov guns with panache.

  • Our Hospitality -- slapstick and Keaton playing with trains. As time goes by, I start to wonder how the mix of drama and knockabout was intended to be received by the contemporary audience.

  • Vampyr -- An interesting contrast to the previous year's Dracula. That was a narrative film with rubber bats.

    This, by contrast, is a pure SFX movie, making much more effective use of available technology. Alas, like all SFX movies, the trickery cannot completely hide the weakness of the other elements -- there is all the narrative coherence of a dream, and only sometimes, the atmosphere of one, as we move from one little set piece to the next. Even the conclusion, with the ingenious demise of the enabler doctor comes out of nowhere -- Chekov's gun is never displayed here before use.

    Taken as a mood piece, quite effective -- would that modern SFX movies would use some of the quieter restraint like this!

  • Thirst -- For anyone wanting to see Park Chan-wook (Oldboy etc.)'s vampire movie, I'll spoil it for you -- the punchline is

    It's an over-long, rambling, jumble of a film. While it starts off promisingly, and seems to be going to invert and subvert genre clich├ęs (a priest begging to be turned into a vampire; the vampire snacking happily from hospital supplies), after what seemed to be about to be the climax (and was probably only 60% of the way through the film) it then wanders off into an entirely different genre

    All the cinematographic style in the world could not save this train-wreck of a movie.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- After the above, I was in no mood to sit through 2.5 hours of Swedish cinema, so gave it a miss.

  • The Ipcress File -- I'd seen this nearly 40 years ago on TV in black and white, and remembered only a couple of fragments (the tape, the nail); so not only was the colour a welcome surprise, but so was the length and complexity of the lead in. Palmer -- for all his little pretentious quirks -- is so much more an accessible character than the adolescent fantasy that Bond represents. Well worth the rewatch (my festival pick)

  • Ghosted -- a German lesbian take on a Chinese style love/ghost story. Cleverly done with video intercut as well as outright flashback as we find out how everything unfolded. The brief sex scene was orders of magnitude less tacky than the stuff I've had to sit through for a long time -- would that a hetero scene be as tastefully done. Overall : mostly harmless, but not something I would have gone out of may way to see (e.g. if it were not on during a week I was taking off to watch films)

  • The Third Man -- What the hell? I mean, seriously, What The Hell!? How did this piece of solid idiot plotting get the reputation it did?

    The emperor has no clothes, is bare-ass naked as a jaybird, nude, sky-clad, in the buff, totally starkers!

    Welles wanders on briefly, acts, surprisingly, as one of the least unsympathetic of the characters (by the time you are supposed to consider him a complete blackguard), the sewers scene provides yet another counter-example for that silly "Why are manhole covers round?" interview question, but, just like with Thirst, style could not save this one. At least its age means that it is short and we were spared having to sit through any sex scenes.