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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Disappointments

If you scroll down to my 29 July entry, you will find that I was disappointed in my attempt to see Rutger Hauer's "Hobo with a Shotgun" (2011).  So when it eventually reappeared at the Prince Charles, off we went -- to find that it was even more disappointing to actually see this Canadian-made rubbish.  Unfortunately even Hauer's screen charisma is not enough to save this splatterfest.  He plays the hobo of the title who rides the rails into a corrupt and lawless town where even the Chief of Police is a baddie.  The town is run by a sadistic Mr. Big, who with his two amoral sons (looking like overgrown Tom Cruise clones) delights in decaptitating his enemies, amongst other jolly tortures.  Good old Rutger is himself mutilated and especially horrified when the local women (most of whom seem to be prostitutes) are threatened. He grabs a shotgun (with a neverending supply of ammo) to mete out his idea of justice and revenge, becoming some sort of local hero in the process.  All he really wants, mind you, is an electric lawnmower so he can start his own grass-cutting business! The screen runs red with the gore effects, but the film is so amateurishly made with so hopeless a supporting cast that the net result is waste of time.

So once again in the hope of compensation and loftier film-making, I turned to two foreign-language films which have been loitering on my hard-disc.  Both appear to be extremely well-thought of, but I found both to be over-rated disappointments, easy enough to watch but strangely unfulfilling.  Could be it's me!  Anyhow here goes:

Still Walking (2008): This Japanese film received numerous Asian filmfest awards for its director Hirokazu Koreeda and other gongs for some of its ensemble actors, but it was rather slow-going and uninvolving.  The film tells of one day in the life of a family; a surviving son and daughter, together with their respective spouses and offspring, have reluctantly come to visit their elderly parents to commemorate the death of the eldest and favoured son some fifteen years earlier.  Grandpa, a retired doctor, sulks most of the time that no one has followed in his medical footsteps.  Grandma fusses over the food, her children, and her rather noisy grandchildren.  The daughter wants to move her family back to her parents' home to supposedly look after them in their dotage -- a suggestion that fills her mother with despair.  The son is an art restorer who barely scrapes a living and he has married a widow with a young child -- none of which sits well with the elders.  Then the now very fat and gormless young man, whom the beloved dead son drowned whilst saving, arrives to pay his respects, adding to the air of gloom in the household.  It is all very Ozu-y in feel, but not a movie to lighten one's heart and it is too pedestrian an effort to enchant.

Mid-August Lunch (2008):  I was quite looking forward to seeing this Italian film whose supposed charm preceded it.  Written and directed by and starring Gianni Di Gregorio (the screenwriter for the much better "Gomorrah" of the same year), it is not exactly a vanity piece but it is an ever-so-slight confection.  He plays a middle-aged man called Gianni who lives with his aged mother (a grotesque played by 93-year old Valeria DeFranciscus) and who pursues a shiftless hand-to-mouth existence.  His landlord threatens eviction for non-payment of rent unless he agrees to look after his aging mother and aunt over the holiday weekend when everyone wants to leave Rome.  He is then lumbered with another old dear foisted upon him by his doctor.  The film focuses on his attempt to feed and accommodate the various ladies, their gripes, and their interaction.  The raw material was there to create a charming and amusing scenario, but somehow it didn't seem to mesh, and even at a scant 75 minutes, I had a surfeit of their company.  I gather DiGregorio has just released another movie "The Salt of Life" where he plays a different Gianni and again co-stars with the now even older DeFranciscus.  It's had mildly lukewarm reviews, but I won't be queuing up to sample its probably dubious attractions.

I hope to be more positive next time!
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