Saturday, 28 April 2012

My April cinema-goings

Just one worthwhile film in the past month of lean pickings:-

My ratings in order of seeing -

Le Havre (6/10)
Headhunters (7.5)
The Cabin in the Woods (5)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (4)

Le Havre  - Moderately engaging French language offering from Finnish director, Kaurismaki. Often leisurely tale-telling with a few attractive quirky touches. In sum, likeable enough, but hardly exceptional - though I don't think it had intended to aim that high.

Headhunters  - Distinctly above-par crime thriller, in Norwegian language. Multi-twist plot, none of which I saw coming. Discomforts one from the outset in not knowing where to place one's sympathies, but I liked that, keeping me on my 'mental toes'. Not a film for those demanding clear-cut resolutions to finish - AND (a warning!), it features the portrayal of the grisly killing of a guard-dog, though this one was largely off-screen and nowhere near as upsetting to me as seeing the hanging of a dog last month in 'Wuthering Heights', which was, surely, real - even if we didn't see the poor little thing actually die. Overall, 'Headhunters' is a superior film which I'd gladly sit through again.

The Cabin in the Woods  - I seem to be in a minority in not thinking particularly highly of this film. All the reviews I've seen have been positive or very so. The general ratings on IMDb website are higher than average too.
My own score is largely based on the originality of the angle on what has, for decades, become such a tired, cliche-ridden story taken up by scores of horror films, viz a group of largely or entirely obnoxious, mainly sex-crazed young things being terrorised in a confined space and being popped off one by one by unknown forces. Yes, I concede that there's a 'wink' at the horror genre's over-used formula here, but I don't think the film works either as horror or comedy. (Some horror films only work because they are so knowingly funny, but it needs some skill to bring that off successfully without being over-parodic). The main reason why this film doesn't work for me is that the premise of entrapment of the group is undermined near the film's start, revealing that the confined area from which escape must be sought is not the same as that which the preyed-upon group sees it. (It's difficult to give much more away without spoiling it for those who wish to see this film, and who may well enjoy it more than I did). Then, later in the film, the confining walls of this 'box' are re-drawn to unconvincing effect resulting in a plethora of special effects which I just find tedious and lazy. Okay, I'd better stop there. But it certainly is a different film from what most of us might have expected.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen -  Not having read the book, which I understand is more philosophical than the title might suggest, I was mildly intrigued by this - but only mildly. I really didn't know what to expect . Apparently the film takes a literal reading of the title and makes it a 1 hour 45 minutes film of this scientific and engineering project (with a parallel romantic thread) - and  I found it, frankly, dull, dull, dull!  Not even British stalwarts Ewan McGregor and the ever-watchable Kristin Scott Thomas (playing bossy-bitch right up to the hilt) as well as recent 'flavour-of-the-times'  Emily Blunt, could make the whole thing more than a tiny bit interesting. Too long and too damn boring! Some fine scenic photography, though.


Anyway, let's hope the coming month brings more than one single film that is worth catching.


Monday, 16 April 2012

My troublesome but truly treasured twosome (again)

All pics taken this very April morn. Blackso now starting to show his 13 years which, in human equivalent age, is probably not far short of my own 65. Noodles will be about 10. They both still control my life absolutely - 'cos I spoil 'em something terrible.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

'HUGO' - at second viewing, but this time in 3D.

For only the fourth time in the last 10 years I've just paid good money to see a film in the cinema for a second time. This time the special one-off showing of 'Hugo' had the added attraction of being in 3D. I'd already seen the 'flat' version back in January which, even in that format, had captivated me. I was a bit reluctant to go, partly because it was showing on the very same screen as when I'd previously seen it. However, largely on the encouragement of my good blog-follower-friend, Paul, go I did.
In a previous blog I'd already nominated it as a potential 'film of the year' and it has now not only lost nothing of that status, but my appreciation of it has been enhanced. Visually, it really is quite extraordinary - and that has got to be its major achievement. The story has its sentimental passages for sure, particularly in the first half hour and towards the end, but it doesn't drown in pathos. I was also more attentive to Howard Shore's music score this time and, I have to say, it's pretty good without being ostentatiously distracting (though, perhaps, using Saint-Saens' 'Danse Macabre' a tad too much.). Even though in the story-telling I knew what was going to happen I was gripped all over again - and actually looking forward to seeing certain of the set pieces, this time jumping out in relief. I wasn't disappointed. I've seen half a dozen films in 3D in this latest resurrected wave of film fashion, and 'Hugo' is easily the most remarkable - in fact I'd say the only one so far which fully justifies being it being in that format, even though it holds up excellently in 2D too.
    As I just caught it on what was probably a final opportunity to see it on a cinema screen in 3D I would urge anyone who hasn't yet seen it, even if it's only showing in 'normal', to catch this totally magical film. Can't understand why it wasn't thought merit-worthy enough to carry off a single one of the major awards at the Oscars and the BAFTAs. I wouldn't be surprised if, in years to come, 'Hugo' is going to be considered a landmark film, for visual effects if nothing else. Superb!

Btw: The only other films of the last decade which I've seen twice in the cinema - 'Mamma Mia!', 'Inception' and 'Chicago'. Doesn't mean that I thought these were the best films of recent years, though obviously I liked them. However, what they do have in common is that they stand up well to repeated viewing.