Sunday, September 12, 2010

Holiday movies

The Romantic Englishwoman: A Tom Stoppard adaptation of a story about a writer (Michael Caine) with a disintegrating marriage (to Glenda Jackson), who vents his frustrations by writing bits of said marital disintegration into a film script he's working on, with the ultimate postmodern result that the fiction and the reality become conflated. Which should be a lot more interesting than it actually is. There were a few good moments (some of the knowing inside jokes, for instance, or the bit where Michael Caine's character rakes a hypocritical pseudo-feminist newspaper columnist over the coals), but the postmodernism rapidly became tedious and the story unengaging.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula: A Hammer film from the mid-seventies, which is often reckoned as the studio's declining period, since it was focusing less on making real horror films and more on making thrillers with lots of nudity. Which actually works to the film's advantage, as what we get here, gratuitous boobs aside, is the Dracula mythos cleverly reimagined for the Quatermass/Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who eras, with van Helsing as a posh British scientist with an interest in the supernatural and a cute and smart granddaughter (who's also capable of giving a jolly good scream when required), and Dracula suavely infiltrating the London business community with shades of the Master's successfully becoming an Establishment figure in Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil (written by Don Houghton, who also scripted this movie). The apocalypse is said in this film to begin on Nov. 23-- the date of Doctor Who's first broadcast, but also, since the year is 1974, the day I was born. Make of that what you will. Also contains the world's cheekiest blue plaque ("Site of St Bartolph's Church, Built 1672, To the Glory of God and demolished for the site of this office block 1972").

Hammer over the Anvil: Sort of an Australian version of The Go-Between, about an Englishwoman (Charlotte Rampling) who emigrates to Australia and starts Lady Chatterleying about with a local horse rancher (a young Russell Crowe), seen through the eyes of a local child who is excluded from most of the rural community's life due to being a polio victim. To be fair to it, it has good points; the metaphors aren't unsubtle, and the denouement works well, with Charlotte Rampling showing more courage than anyone had given her credit for and the narrator finally coming to terms with his disability and earning the community's respect. However, it's still so boring it feels like it's almost double its length. Based on a book, and was probably better as one.

Movie count for 2010: 101