Monday, April 22, 2013

Django Unencountered

Django Unchained: Brutal but surprisingly hilarious, sort of *Blazing Saddles* meets *Inglorious Basterds*. I was a little disappointed by a lot of the casual sexism; Brunhilde is basically just a damsel-in-distress, and the intriguing fact that one of the gang of thugs on the Candieland plantation is clearly female was never really explored. But Christoph Waltz is hilarious as Dr King-Schultz, and the whole thing winds up as a kind of pop-culture riff on oppression and complicity. I saw the censored-by-the-Chinese-government version on an airplane, so I'm looking forward to the DVD release.

  The Big Sleep: Still brilliant and complex and compelling, a noir with the actual plot told in euphemism, allusion and things left unsaid.  

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: I was actually pretty astonished at how bad this was. The plot is minimal and predictable, the protagonist is thoroughly unlikable (I'm pretty sure the director *didn't* intend that I should be cheering when his wife took the kids and left him, but I did), and it's one thing to get a famous French director who speaks no English in for a cameo, but giving him a major part is asking for trouble. The spaceship was pretty but even as a big fan of early-Eighties electronica I found the whole communicating-through-synth sequence got boring really fast. Seriously, the same guy made Munich and Empire of the Sun?  

Yesterday's Enemy: Before they got pigeonholed as a horror studio, Hammer used to make other things, and this movie, adapted from a teleplay by Peter R. "Doctor Who and the Sensorites" Newman is a rather good morality-of-war piece: a British unit in WWII Burma commit a war crime, shooting two Burmese villagers to get a third to talk, and then are captured by the Japanese and subject to exactly the same treatment. With a young Leo McKearn.

Movie count for 2013: 23

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Cloud Computing

Cloud Atlas: Entertaining multi-narrative exploration of slavery and freedom, with some well-sketched characterisation. My main problem was that the multi-role casting got a little distracting, rather than concentrating on the narrative one kept looking to see if this or that character was Halle Berry in whiteface and/or drag. Still, props for casting Hugh Grant as a sort of Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic warrior in skull makeup.

Life of Pi: A lot better than I was expecting, in that it somehow managed to be largely true to the book (unbelievably as I'd thought it unfilmable), without being dull. The tiger alone is spectacular, though the CGI sometimes was a little obvious.

In Like Flint: I didn't actually like this one as much as I did its sequel; this one had a similar sort of Prisoneresque insouciance, but also had an anti-science message and some really awful gender politics which made the cheery sexism of the sequel look like Gloria Steinem. Still, it had some nice moments of Sixties outrageousness, and some rather nice decor.

Manborg: Forgot to mention this one which I saw at a midnight screening courtesy of SF London. A careful mixture of every single 1980s genre movie, from Scarface to Hellraiser to Full Metal Jacket. So awful it's almost poetry.
Movie count for 2013: 19