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Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

29-6-2006 (archived)

Now, as you know, I like Milla Jovovich playing a superhuman chop-sockey futuristic babe in a stupid film. I BOUGHT both Resident Evil pictures. And so it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that “Ultraviolet” (not to be confused with the excellent but mystifyingly-tanking BBC series) is an utter piece of stinking shit. Some of the IMDB comment threads seem to be trying to suggest that it's a satire, which is a nice theory but sadly falls apart under the sheer suck exhibited at all times. Even if it's satire, it's shit satire. You don't satirise a genre of bad film by making the worst ever example, and one that's not even entertaining. You especially don't if you're a director whose output now consists of a bad film (Equilibrium) and a worse film (this).

How does it suck? I count: bad acting (Jovovich is not bad, but the others are just appalling), terribly shitty console-standard CGI, boring action scenes, rubbish weapons, incoherent “plot”, unexplained everything, slow, often boring, clearly missing backstory... some of this might be the alleged hack job done by the studios, but still.

There are two good lines, which I will put here in order to help stop you wasting your time on this film, and which do support the idea that Wimmer might have been trying to make a satire (still failing, of course). The first is “Many”, which doesn't really work out of context. The second is delivered by the supposed-to-be-sinister arch-villain as Violet faces up alone to an army of, well, many, and reads simply “are you mental?”

I got stupid all over me and it won't come off.

1-7-2006 (archived)

I'm not as big as Dave Tate, but I still recognised several of the 27 reasons to be big. He is a god.

3-7-2006 (archived)

The Lake House” is another stupid film, but, unlike Ultraviolet, it works. You may need to hold on to your faith in that regard, since the first five or ten minutes are just extraordinarily bad, with astonishingly bad acting (making Keanu look brilliant. Really), terrible direction, and a clunky script. In short, it looked like a remake of a foreign film shot by a director who's never worked in Hollywood or made a movie in English, which perhaps not coincidentally it is.

Fortunately, for even I would find it hard to take two really bad movies in a row, it gets very rapidly better. Of course Keanu still can't act, or walk with his feet parallel for that matter, but despite that and the utter foolishness of the plot, it's extremely moving and effective. I don't mind the time warp nonsense and the causality paradoxes, but it takes real suspension-of-disbelief work to cope with the fact that the conversations between the two, supposedly epistolatory, are more like IM than even a phone text conversation, let alone the long letters that the characters are supposedly reading (the one scene next to the mailbox is exempt from this whinging). Of course, the advantage of this is that they can move away from the mailbox - there are some lovely scenes where they're at the same places two years apart, reading these implausibly interlinked letters.

So, it's phenomenally stupid, nobody in it is a great actor, and Keanu notoriously stinks. Of course both he and Bullock are great movie stars, which is far more important to a film of this type than acting; we invest in them, we want to have them or be them, and the implausibility of their performances prevents the idiocy of the script being too much of a problem. And it works; it works beautifully. Once we roll into the second half, the emotional load starts to build, and by the time that the only part of the plot concealed from the viewer (and by “concealed” I mean “obvious to everybody from roughly five minutes in”, but still, I shan't give it away) is finally confirmed and all the details of the climax are driven home, anybody not in full floods of tears frankly is not the sort of person who would have considered seeing this in the first place. Cathartically, cleansingly, manipulatively lovely.

I promise not to finish a paragraph with four consecutive adjectives again. Unless, y'know, I want to.

6-7-2006 (archived)

“If interested, please send me an email explaining your situation, and writing a short blurb (essay, history, poem, whatever) about your love of cats. I reserve the right to revoke your room (with a refund) at any time if I feel that my cats are more depressed or are not enjoying your company.”

And that's the sane part. Good grief.

My favourite part is probably “more depressed”. Presumably they're depressed now because they're living with a maniac who doesn't clean up their shit.

7-7-2006 (archived)

Over The Hedge” is yet another computer-animated kids' film, but a real step up from most of what we've had recently. It's not on a par with the Shrek movies or The Incredibles, but it's comfortably the best since then. All of the cast do a good job, producing various levels of surprise - none at all for Bruce Willis, in something close to David Addison sweet-talking mode, and quite a bit more for Lavigne. The animation's just great, the simple jokes are plenty enough to keep kids amused, and while the satire's hardly world-shaking it's still enough to get adults laughing. Ones like us, anyway.

After a great run, it's been a long time since the last great cartoon (leaving aside the Japanese-type ones that belong in a different category), and it looks like this summer's efforts aren't going to be it - Cars looks pretty damned poor, though I probably can't not see a Pixar movie. This isn't it either, but it's a very good stopgap.

11-7-2006 (archived)

Reeker” is an almost completely typical lowish-budget horror film, complete with moderately disappointing explanatory end-twist, central fratboy character whose death you are rooting for, death's-hood-robed killer with power tools, and jokes about septic tanks. If you like this sort of thing, it's just fine. Not in any sense memorable or special, though. Hey ho.

13-7-2006 (archived)

So, Doncaster NHS trust have released a guide to local phrases for doctors coming to work in the area. Most of them seem to refer to menstruation. I understand why, allegedly, Eskimos have many words for snow and Bedouin for sand dunes, but this is more puzzling. Does the moon orbit faster over Donny?

While the likes of “I've got my friend” and “I've got fishdocks” are undoubtedly entertaining in their own rather odd way, “My husband is good to me” is probably a sound basis for a gritty, touching Ken Loach film, and speculating on the size and colour differences perhaps implied by a Sixpence rather than a Tuppence could pass some time, I cannot but feel that anyone incapable of describing what is wrong with them to a doctor in something approaching non-euphemistic standard English probably deserves to die of the crotchrot, as apparently in Doncaster they mostly would.

14-7-2006 (archived)

Fearless” is apparently to be Jet Li's last martial arts movie, and by god it's a good one. Based on a true and rather resonant story and with a cracking arc for Li's character, it has emotional depth, stirring themes, and superb chop-sockey. Outstanding.

18-7-2006 (archived)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” is probably not quite as earthshakingly great as the first one, but you can't expect the greatest movie ever twice in a row. After all, part of the brilliance of the original was the sheer surprise; who would ever have thought that Disney would not only have the sheer balls to make a film out of a theme park ride, but would then go ahead and hire English people, and Johnny Depp, to play a camp, confused, immoral, scene-stealing pirate captain with bad teeth? Of course, it turns out that they probably didn't and were horrified by the result when they got it, but hey ho. Zombie pirates!

This one is, in many ways, better than the first. The effects are stunning, Nighy is a huge bonus even if you can't really see him, Knightley continues to learn to act (Bloom still can't, but hey ho, that's not his job), and Depp is, as ever, wonderful. Most importantly, there's real character development happening here for just about every major player except Bloom; maybe that's to come in the next film, maybe they've just accepted that he can't act and as such would be better not developed. And, if you didn't know, there will be a next film, next year, which is just as well since this one ends badly unresolved. If you've seen it, or don't care about spoilers, I can't argue with Cherie Priest's excellent analysis - and Knightley is good enough to carry the load placed on her. She also manages to be astonishingly hot for somebody so skinny, which is a good trick if you can do it.

In “more reasons to love the IMDB”, where else would you be prominently informed that Johnny Depp was once credited as Oprah Noodlemantra?

Anyway. Some of you may want to know whether you should see this, which frankly you should know already. This is not, this time, the greatest movie ever made, but it is still quite brilliant.

20-7-2006 (archived)

District 13” is apparently rather close to Escape from New York, a 25-year-old movie I haven't seen. It's hardly a complicated plot, anyway: city district has a wall put around it and is left to stew, but then a nuclear warhead ends up in there. Oops.

It's pretty much a straight-ahead action movie, and comes with a convincingly dirty, urban feel. It's decidedly and definitely French, too, with a martial arts feel very different from the more Eastern movies, even those not dominated by wirework. While the fight scenes are spectacular and highly entertaining, the unique selling point here is costar David Belle, one of the original freerunners, and his ridiculous acrobaticism is used to the full here. It reminded me slightly of early Jackie Chan movies in that the scenes are really cool until you realise that they're actually doing it, at which point they become something closer to awesome.

I tend to harp on about acting and performances, but there's not much of that here, probably because the three good guys are played by an athlete (Belle), a stuntman, and a porn starlet. Still, this is not the kind of film that really needs acting, so it's none the worse for it. Great fun.