April 08, 2006 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight 2006: March

Another relatively large month for cinema visits but, sadly, a fairly mixed bunch. Might as well begin:

Philip Seymour Hoffman deserved his oscar for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote. This film looks at the authors life around the time he was investigating and writing the greatest of his books, In Cold Blood. Capote is about a man obsessed with himself, his own greatness and ability, and the lengths he will go to in order to become immortalised. It’s a fascinating insight into the mind of one of the greatest writers ever, and thankfully it isn’t overly sugar coated.

Stay is an interesting film. It starts off as a fairly mainstream story about a psychiatrist (Ewan McGregor) who gets a suicidal patient, a young man who will kill himself on his 21st birthday which is only days away. From there we see a descent into madness, the lives of all concerned unravelling and being entwined with that of the patient. Arty, beautiful, but with a fairly poor ending, this film is worth watching just to have seen it. The tricks employed throughout are dazzling, the insanity permeating the film.

The thing about remakes is that you have to remake something that was pretty good, perhaps with a strong central premise, for it to be worthwhile. Anyone who can remember John Carpenter’s The Fog will know that this is not the case (B-movie horror fans, even you know it wasn’t great). A remake with poor CGI, dreadful acting, ghost lepers, and weak motivations that takes itself seriously just doesn’t cut it. From the awful soundtrack to the painful comic relief, this film is the epitome of formulaic modern horror. Avoid.

Sold as being from (some) of the writers of the Scary Movie films, Date Movie is exactly what you might expect: an adolescent spoof of recent romantic comedies, and teen flicks that focus on love. The thing it misses is humour. While there are moments (two) of hilarious, but utterly juvenile, laughs, for the most part this is a case of taking elements from other films and expecting them to be funny out of context. It doesn’t work like that, and the writers should know better.

Having now officially finished his stint as smug super-agent supreme, James Bond, Pierce Brosnan takes on an entirely different angle at the old killing game. In The Matador, Brosnan plays a washed out, dangerous, seedy, but ultimately lonely assassin, who happens to befriend a loser business man. The elements that bring them together are tenous, and the films finale awkward, but still the charm of the lead lets some of the better lines shine through. Enjoyable enough to watch, if nothing spectacular, Pierce has done a good job against type.

While Memoirs Of A Geisha has been out for a while, I only just saw it at the cinema so will include it here (I will, however, exclude Apocalypse Now Redux, which I also only just saw). This is a film of contrasts: beautifully shot, yet overblown; seemingly long, but only showing snippets of the character’s life; dramatic, yet turgidly dull. It’s not that it’s a bad film, it just doesn’t do or say anything particularly interesting: the central premise of loving a near stranger rings cold to the passion it attempts to portray.

The Ringer definitely grew out of a bad idea: something thinking that they’d like to make a film about rigging the Special Olympics. I have no real problem with the central premise, in so far as anyone is equally fair game for a pisstake, but the execution is somewhat offputting (and indecisive). Knoxville and cast spend half their time moralising that the other contestants are smarter and better than their stereotypes, and the other half saying that they are basically idiots. Couple this with the fact that the jokes never really get over repeating the initial idea, the film falls flat on its face.

Finally, from the makers of The Matrix (although not directed by them, or based on an original work by them or… what did they do again?), V For Vendetta is the overtly comic book look at a society where fascism has taken over Britain, and the rest of the world is in turmoil. Leaving aside the ridiculous British stereotypes (bad accents, Benny Hill, and pubs) and slightly cringeworthy finale, this story of an uncompromising freedom fighter is surprisingly good. I don’t want to say much about it, it’s not an action film as the trailers may make you believe, but it is worth seeing.

And the winner is… Stay, simply because it is a beautiful and complex film, arty without being arsey.