DVD review entries

October 26, 2005

The Nanny State

DVD front cover
Super Size Me [DVD] [2004]
4 out of 5 stars

I saw Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's film of epic proportions, last night on More 4. It was basically Bowling For Columbine with a slimmer (which was essential, really) and slightly less smug version of Michael Moore, and a somewhat more light(despite all that cholesterol)-hearted subject matter. He eats nothing but McDonalds food for a month and sees what happens – Spurlock, that is, not Moore, although he probably does that anyway.

Overall, an entertaining bit of Gonzo journalism, with the odd gross-out moment, which also highlights the dangers of lack of exercise and school dinners, as well as Maccy Ds. Which is good, but then he goes and recommends things like banning "soda" from schools and things like that. As I've said in previous entries I have a problem with this. Taking a hell of a lot of my political philosophy from J. S. Mill, I can't agree with banning things which are harmful only to the user. Letting people know the dangers of eating junk food is fine, but that's as far as the state's power ought to go. I strangely find myself disagreeing with Spurlock's message, but fully endorsing the point of the film (assuming that it's accurate).

To coincide nicely with my viewing habits for the sake of this blog, the government have announced their plans for banning smoking in public places. I wonder what Millo would have made of it all as it seems like a bit of a grey area. The proposed ban is essentially to protect employees of hostelries from the health risks of passive smoking. The thing is, it takes a lot of other people's cigarette smoke to give you a related disease, so justification could be interpreted as more than just health reasons: persecution of smokers by non-smokers who don't like smoky environments much. And you might argue that everyone has a choice what they do with their leisure time, and even where they work; no one has to go to smoky pubs, etc. Not knowing the full details, particularly how damaging passive smoking actually is, I'm not sure what conclusion my anti-paternalist principles who lead me to. But as long as there is still the odd dive die-hard smokers are able to go to, then it satisfies Labour's erstwhile commitment to Choice.

However, I think a ban on smoking in public places is going to be difficult to enforce. Say you're a barkeep in an insalubrious part of town – i.e. full of obnoxious charves – and you catch someone smoking, ask them kindly to stub out their cigarette, the question arises where, exactly? Are pubs still going to have ashtrays? Can I suggest that pubs only be allowed to have a smoking area if they it's well-ventilated? Would that work?

It's interesting that in every policy area, Labour are aiming to either expand or restrict choice, seemingly at random.

April 18, 2005

The Apartment

DVD front cover
The Apartment [DVD]
5 out of 5 stars

Just to keep my new-found prolificacy (blogwise) going, I'll review the film I just watched. The Apartment stars Jack Lemmon as C. C. 'Bud' Baxter, an insurance clerk who lets out his apartment to his company superiors and their mistresses. He manages to get a promotion out of this arrangement as well as embroiled in an awkward love triangle. It's a wonderfully crafted script and very, very funny. Quite melancholy, in a way, as it explores that eternal dilemma of what to put first, your job, or the woman you love.

I borrowed it, and Glengarry Glen Ross (which I watched last night), from - as ever - the SRC. Coincidentally, Jack Lemmon is also in that film, and you know what's funny? I realised the character of Gil, the inept salesman in The Simpsons is entirely based on Lemmon's characters in those two films.

April 11, 2005

Josie And The Pussycats

DVD front cover
Josie And The Pussycats [DVD] [2001]
3 out of 5 stars

Late one Sunday night, a group of friends and I were presented with a choice of what film to pass the time with: Dogville or this. I'd heard mixed reviews of Dogville, so was quite interested in seeing it but the film's weird play-esque setup was too much to deal with, it being late one Sunday night, 'n all. Plus, the decision was pretty unanimous: Josie And The Pussycats it was.

I must say, it's not something I'd normally go for. Sure, as a guy, films about rock music with girls in appeal to me. But such a winning combination is negated once you have these girls playing the guitars. This takes the film well into chickflick country. And as everyone knows, girl bands don't work. Hear me out! The phallic symbolism of the guitar becomes an alien concept when a woman is playing and a crucial element of ROCK is lost herein. The Faders will soon discover this, mark my words.

The healthy level of prejudice upon the commencement of my viewing put me in good stead – I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, it's not great, but it's more than the mindless fluff I was expecting. It's a satire on the music industry and consumerism, and it pulls it off quite well – though it would've still been lost on the target audience, I would imagine. Many of the gags are crass but just as many are very good. The whole film, with its constant product placement, is ridiculously knowing. I quite liked the way they had the blonde (Tara Reid) play the drums, then shamelessly milked the blonde/drummer superjokes.

Released around the same time as the episode of The Simpsons in which Bart et al become a manufactured band was first aired, ...Pussycats is uncannily similar. However, I prefer to see it as a poor man's, female/music industry-oriented Zoolander, which was also out at roughly the same time, and is far superior.

At this part of the review, I traditionally mention how great the soundtrack of the film I'm reviewing is. Unfortunately, apart from a spoof boyband (De Jour) song called Backdoor Lover, it ain't much cop.

March 30, 2005

Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds

I bought this ages ago for £3 and, typically, only a combination of insomnia and lethargy (that's right, it finally got me) has been able to bring me to watch it.

It's one of those programmes I have the fondest memories for and it doesn't disappoint. Based, of course, on Alexandre Dumas's canineless novel, and set in France a few hundred years ago, it follows the adventures of young Dogtanian, who sets off for Paris to seek his fortune with only his pluck and exceptional sword skills to overcome all the obstacles that come his way. He falls in with the King's Muskehounds and finds himself embroiled in their bitter rivalry with 'the evil' Cardinal Richelieu's guards.

It's got everything: a swashbuckling battle between good and evil, fights, chases, a love interest, hilarious slapstick moments, random pigs, bears and cats amongst all the dog characters, clunky dialogue which has obviously been directly translated from the French or whatever, unintentionally funny worthiness whenever they say something like "One for all and all for one!" and great music (with a not unpleasant whiff of the 80s). Aah, nostalgia…

I'll be done with it in a bit if you want to borrow it…

March 25, 2005

Requiem For A Dream

DVD front cover
Requiem for a Dream [DVD] [2001]
5 out of 5 stars

Aaargh, I'm in a rut. Despite challenging myself to finish this Libertarianism essay tonight, I'm compelled to write a blog entry just so I can keep this new and until now unintentional Wednesday-Friday-Sunday pattern going.

So I watched my brother's DVD of Requiem For A Dream last night. I've been wanting to see it for a while.

The Top Three descriptions people give of this film are:

  • It's horrible
  • It's fucked-up
  • It's brilliant

And pretty much everyone I've talked to about it with said all three. I thought: "surely that's not possible. I'm intrigued."

So I finally saw it and what can I say? It's horrible, fucked-up and most importantly, brilliant.

Following the lives of a middle-aged woman (Ellen Burstyn) living in Brooklyn, her son (Jared Leto), and his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) and friend (Marlon Wayans), RFAD demonstrates how diet pill addiction, intravenous drug abuse, skag-dealing and agreeing to go on the game for your boyfriend can go so wrong.

Don't really want to spoil it any further. It's directed brutally and beautifully. The soundtrack's very good too. See it and you'll realise what people mean when they say all three.

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