A Big Film Catch-up : Part I

Posted by Lou. The time is 4.40pm here in London, UK.



Over the last few weeks I've seen a lot of films - in the cinema, on DVD, but mostly in-flight. Some were bad, some good, some great, some awful, and a few just a little bit eccentric. Too many for one post, so here are the extremes with all those from in between to follow soon.


The Great


Untouchable Girls, the feature-length documentary about New Zealand icons The Topp Twins (aka Jools and Lynda), is absolutely brilliant. The film features interviews with twins themselves and their various characters - including Camp Leader & Camp Mother (pictured left) and Ken & Ken - alongside archive footage and performances from a recent tour, all weaved together wonderfully.

The surprise of the doco is that as integral to them as their music and comedy characters is Jools and Lynda's determination to stand up for what they believe in: from Bastion Point to the '81 Springbok Tour to the fight for gay rights to the fight for woman's rights to the fight against French nuclear testing, and everything in between. Their charisma, passion, sass and utterly grounded natures makes them two of the most contagiously wonderful people on this earth, and I salute them.


******

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is one of those animated films where you sort of secretly wish you had kids so you could use them as an excuse to run straight out to the cinema on opening day to see it. The story of a machine that creates food that rains down from the sky is stunningly realised by the animation artists, and the script is clever and funny. On top of all that it has a pretty good girl character. Oh, and lots of food. Need I say more?




******


The Eccentric


Okay so it probably wasn't considered particularly eccentric in its time, but watching the 1959 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes novel The Hounds of Baskerville (starring Peter Cushing) in 2010 while halfway between Singapore and London sort of made it seem quite eccentric. The opening flashback to a ghastly murder on the moors at the hands of a Lord Fuckwad, complete with swarm of hounds, is actually quite hilarious - almost self-parodying. And of course Holmes himself is an eccentric, so add in quite a lot of prancing about on the moors, a bit Christopher Lee, and one cliche of a Spanish lady and you've got yourself 90 minutes of forgetting you're in a confined space flying far above the earth. Plus, don't you think movie posters looked better back in ye olde days?


******


I'm putting this one in the eccentric category in honour of Martin Scorsese, whose determination to make old-style films is to me an eccentric and endearing quirk within a cinema landscape that is so obsessed with fx, edginess, and the now. I would imagine that a lot of people won't like Shutter Island, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure I did, but it sucked me in and it made my film companion literally cry out in fear.



Leo - ah Leo, how I love thee - pulls in another fine performance as a Deputy Marshall who has orchestrated being assigned an investigation into a missing woman on Shutter Island, home of nothing but a high-security mental hospital. Things are not as they seem and soon spiral out of control, with plenty of blood and shocks galore. Scorsese revels in the thriller genre, complete with exaggerated musical score, dark and stormy night, and a lighthouse on sea-battered rocks. It would certainly be a fine choice for a Friday night trip to the cinema... except that Scorsese then bends the genre, layering in haunting Holocaust imagery as the Marshall's experiences of the war haunt him through his investigation. Perhaps a Sunday night then.


******


The Downright Awful


The Lovely Bones. Perhaps I should have titled this one "The Soporific". Normally I find it really difficult to sleep during flights, but despite having already had a fulfilling (drug-induced) sleep, I still fell fast asleep during this. Thanks PJ, it made the flight much easier to bear than I suspect actually watching the film would have.

PS: I chose this picture as it looks like the dude has just gotten his first glimpse of Marky Mark's hair.


******

Couples Retreat is an appalling film. That it got greenlit while so many brilliant, smart, witty scripts never get picked up is a fucking travesty. First I would like to explain why I watched it. You see, there is a certain point on long-haul flights where I can't sleep but neither can I think properly, and I sort of don't want to waste any decent films by watching them during this lull, so I usually flick to the comedy section to see what they have to offer, and inevitably there is a Vince Vaughn comedy, and even more inevitably I make the dumb decision to choose it. I don't mind Vaughn - I mean, I certainly don't actively like him as an actor, and I take his presence in a film to mean that I should never pay money to see it - and so in flight purgatory his films can be satisfactory for the situation.

But this one is just awful. I won't bore you with any more other than to say that, predictably, a bunch of middle-aged, dislikeable and unattractive men implausibly have caring, beautiful wives. Marital problems (gosh, I wonder why?) and other straining-credibility factors lead them all to a couples retreat in tropical paradise where the women take their clothes off a lot and everyone lives happily ever after. Except the viewer. Avoid with all your being. The sight of Temuera Morrison degrading himself in the role of "the native" is something that will be with you for life.



3 thoughts on “A Big Film Catch-up : Part I”

  1. Hound of the Baskervilles: love that font.

    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: we watched this on the weekend (with Katee!) based on your recommendation. So good! Sooo much better than Up!! Loved the "reverse make-over" of the lead girl. And all the food mmmmm...

    And HAHAHAHHAHAHAA re Marky Mark's hair.

  2. re: Couples Retreat
    Did you notice Tem's name was spelled incorrectly in the opening credits? That was the funniest part of the whole thing