July 05, 2007

A lot of films

'Blood Diamond' starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly teeters between issue movie and blockbuster ground. Any terse flirtation between an antihero and the feisty female journalist at the beginning of the film threatens to make me roll my eyes so hard I almost went blind. Consider that this eyeball jiggling is before she delivers the line: "So if you're not going to help me, and we're not going to screw - why are you still here?" as an ultimatum for him to change his swindling ways. The half-hearted stabs at screwball comedy and the recurring, 'I'm the cameraman?' line also failed to impress. At this point you are unable to decide what kind of genre movie you are watching, or more to the point, what kind of movie you'd like to be watching. Too glossy in its characterisation, not as impressive with its script, to be as hard-hitting as say, City of God. Overall impression - educational, exciting, but the presentation of characters came off as trite and sweeping.

Next film to provide an evenings food for guilt was the documentary 'Black Gold', a film about the global coffee industry and the exploitation of farmers by multinationals.These educational films are all the more harrowing if you don't actually enjoy them that much. I was probably just extremely sleepy and, if I recall correctly, my mind was elsewhere. Documentaries should be mulled over on the comfort of your own sofa, watching upside down with your legs bicycling the air. Overall memories are of a well-made film. I blame any other feelings on myself.

A few nights later, jerking me out of any emotional inertia brought on by the previous two movies, 'Water', is easily one of the most moving films I've ever seen. I could be biased. Anything that reminds of your own culture and traditions, the faces and the voices onscreen reminding you of family and 'community' is sure to tug at the heart strings of someone living so apart from their ethnic heritage. Listening to the Hindi dialogue, I realised, was an intensely comforting experience. Although Hindi is not the language spoken at home for me, it is pretty similar to our Gujerati tongue, and is of course the language of Bollywood and Asian satellite channels. Onto the film itself; you may know that in India the common choices for female widows were as such 1. Death on her husbands funeral pyre (saathi - literally meaning 'together'), 2. Marrying the younger brother with familial consent 3. To life a life of deprivation, separate from the rest of the community. Be warned, this film takes not only one but two completely heart-in-mouth downturns towards the end. As a seasoned grumbler, I say one is enough, but the intention was obviously to stop produce something utterly soul-destroying to watch. I put it on the shelf of ‘Amazing film, don’t want to ever see it again’ along with the Green Mile and the Elephant Man.

Let us leave the comfort of the Arts Center cinema now, and move to a scene where three girls recline on a sofa after an impromptu post-curry rave in the living room and yawn like greyhounds, avoiding each others cold feet under the communal duvet. 'Dangerous Liaisons' is apparently one of my friends’ favorite films and I can certainly see why she likes it (funny to hear that the inflections and the speaking rhythms of the characters are very similar to her own.) Watching the movie at last helped me pinpoint the type of movie I most enjoy: 'Period romp where people in the olden days go around doing very bad things' I didn't stay for the whole movie but I’ll probably watch the rest of it soon. Hooray for public libraries. 

Which bring us to the movies I rented out yesterday. 'Miss Potter’, as recommended by my sister, was as expected, a piece of tripe. I hate telling my sister that the films she recommends when we rent things together usually turn out to be rubbish and no doubt makes me appear to be a giant beeatch. Usually I am pretty open minded with the one exception that it can't be anything with Nicole Kidman in it (ever noticed how people in their late twenties and thirties seem to fixate on that slightly older guard of Hollywood actors still working today? I guess it must be a leftover afterglow from the late eighties and early nineties when stars still seemed like more enlightened human beings than your average cinema go-er.)

I also rented Al Gores much talked about documentary on climate change, 'An Inconvenient Truth.'  I'll always remember the Simpsons regular send-ups of Gore as an emotionless android, being too young to really remember much useful about Gore and his political career. I confess I haven't really kept up with international politics since Politics A-Level. We all can't help but noticing that it's July for Gods sake, and we're sat indoors with windows and doors locked, wearing jumpers and making cups of hot chocolate, whilst outside the rains show no sign of letting up and making way for a heat wave any time soon. Those of us driving cars around are especially prone to biting our lips and wringing our hands in guilty anguish behind our backs. All are in agreement that the last few weeks of term were thoroughly bizarre, especially compared to last year when a trip outside halls of residence at 9am in early June could have easily lead to sunburn. The presentation of this film was really very good, with the scientific information presented in neat and digestible terms, with Gore standing flapping around at a screen behind him, alternating serious and playing the data for laughs with his studio audience. 

Last but not last, 'Transamerica' was a genuinely funny, witty road movie featuring a male to female transgender individual going by the name of Bree and her struggle to accept her male prostitute son, who calls her up out of the blue asking for bail. Juicy stuff right. The film manages to allow us to take Bree seriously, to feel as if we understand her struggle to define herself and find dignity, without really going into too dark or unsettling a tone.

Returning home from university seems to lead towards even later (earlier?) bed times than usual. I caught a little of 'A Clockwork Orange' on satellite last night. The first time I watched the movie I was around fifteen or sixteen years of age. I remember that the same year my pals and I dressed up as the droogs for Halloween, in white outfits with black bowler hats. A merry time was had by all. A mother asked us if our costumes were not a bit adult for the kids. But back to the film, I’m not sure how I feel about it, other than it is obviously a landmark piece of cinema and it is certainly not a meek or an unexciting effort and the set design and costumes are amazing. Perhaps it’s the overall coldness of the film that puts me off. A film that draws obvious influence from this is the much more recent Belgian film 'Man Bites Dog', which I borrowed from the university library in the first year. There were times when sitting in the kitchen which stank constantly of bacon butties reading old copies of FHM just got a bit too much for a young girl, and she had to retire to her boudoir with a bit of European video nastiness. So anyway, that was me making good use of 'alone time' in the first year.

Just now I watched 'Swimming Pool' in its entirety. It was as I thought it would be, one of those languorous films set in Europe where dialogue is minimal, people spy on each other from balconies, and naked body parts droop about the place - seemingly superfluously, until someone gets inexplicably horny. On the whole I really liked it. Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier were great playing off each other and the ending was deliciously mysterious.

And so now I might put my square peepers to bed.

I've got an urge to rent some more films tomorrow. I need to see 'The Libertine' again, because, and I also want to see Vin Diesels' 'Pitch Black' for some reason. I feel a yearning for far fetched stories awakening.

Updated… ‘The Libertine’ I admit I mostly liked this for Johnny Depps performance, not really understanding the dynamic between Rochester and Barry (Samantha Morton) the first time around. It’s a great film with great cinematography, but far too short. It isn’t enough of a psychological movie, but it can’t be, within its relatively miniscule (for a period film) time frame. But on the whole, I’d watch it just for the ‘prologue’. You know what I'm sayin. I did watch ‘Pitch Black’, along with ‘The Crow’. Both movies I would’ve probably liked when I was younger. Movie making has obviously moved on from the special effects both of these rely on. Both suffer from weak plotlines and bad acting. I rented both of these to see if I could reawaken my love of the campy Goth / sci-fi tinged that reigned supreme in my heart during the teen years. Unfortunately I seem to have grown up. What a pain.

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