Monday, December 26, 2011

Special effects

The Conversation: Simple but powerful film about interpretation: Gene Hackman is a private surveillance operative who records a conversation; he doesn't know what it's about or why the person who commissioned it thinks it's important, leading to a spiral of brilliantly-rendered paranoid delusion as the operative speculates endlessly on its meaning and interprets the events of his life in regard to these speculations.

Hugo: I went to see this in part because of reading a review which said that this is the first film to actually use 3D as an integral part of the storytelling rather than a gimmick. I'm not sure I'd really go that far-- the 3D certainly added excitement and drama but I didn't see anything that couldn't have come across fine in a 2D version. That aside, it was still a rather sweet family drama (albeit one which occasionally segues into a lecture on the history of early cinema), with Sasha Baron-Cohen giving a surprisingly touching performance as the ostensibly-evil-but-it-turns-out-just-misunderstood antagonist.

The Red Baron: How anyone managed to make the story of a group of largely-aristocratic teenagers/twentysomethings given access to really powerful flying machines and more or less carte-blanche as to how to use them into such a boring movie, I'll never know, but they did. The misguided worthiness of the piece is summed up for me by the fact that they actually made up a Jewish flying-ace secondary character, adding in a title card at the end of the story that he "represents" the Jewish pilots who distinguished themselves in the German Air Force of WWI-- it's like saying "we have to emphasise this so no one will accuse us of being antisemitic, but God forbid we should actually tell the story of a real German Jewish pilot".

The Magic Roundabout: I was going to go sarcastic on this one and interpret it as a metaphor for how the underlying selfishness of the postwar generation led to the very same bright-eyed hippies and communards of the 1960s and 1970s becoming the relentless commercialists of the 1980s and 1990s. But it's too much work, so I'll just sum this up by saying that I don't remember kung-fu ninja death skeletons being a part of the original TV programme.

Movie count for 2011, with a week to go: 124