It's hardly a case of my not having viewed a ridiculous number of movies in the last few weeks or indeed since last posting, but there is virtually nothing among them that encourages me to get particularly enthused. Often when this is the case, I give you a run-down of most of what has filled my screen, but this week nearly all of it has been just too boring for words.
For a start let's briefly consider the dire selection of premiere screenings from Sky. Big yawn here. The first up was "Country Strong" (2010) a vanity piece from Gwyneth Paltrow who obviously fancies herself as a would-be country singer. Here she plays a famous singer attempting a comeback after rehab for drink and various other problems. It does not end happily!!! Talking about not ending happily, another offering was an ensemble piece called believe it or not "Another Happy Day" (2011) produced by Ellen Barkin (among some 25 producers) and featuring her as a neurotic female returning with her second family to her parents' home for her estranged son's wedding. Despite a potentially starry cast including Ellen Burstyn, George Kennedy, Thomas Haden Church, Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Ezra Miller, et. al., the problems of this dysfunctional family were embarrassingly dull and what was meant to be a happy day turned into a miserable one both for the family and we viewers. No one could accuse "No Strings Attached" (2011) featuring mismatched couple Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman of setting out to be boring, but the inevitable ending of their falling in love despite themselves, rather than remaining 'sex-buddies', was predictable from the get-go. (I do wonder sometimes why Portman -- again a producer -- thinks that this kind of candyfloss will add to her reputation).
That leaves two more 'gems' from Sky this week. The first of these was "Faster" (2010) starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as an ex-con out for revenge, and although I only watched it a few days ago the details have slipped into a memory abyss -- perhaps I really slept through it! Finally there was the Australian concoction with the intriguing (but stupid) title of "Tomorrow When the War Began" (2010). A diverse group of rural teenagers go camping to a remote beauty spot one weekend and return home to find their families missing, homes devastated, and the country invaded by a ruthless (but anonymous) enemy who need Australia's natural resources. Yeah, yeah, yeah! So this mismatched group become freedom fighters, managing to evade detection and sabotaging the enemy's resources. No ending to the film of course, since any final conclusion would be as unlikely as the whole scenario preceding it.
Even recently viewed foreign language films were something of a disappointment. "Treeless Mountain" a Korean flick from 2008 sounded promising, but was rather uninvolving in its tale of two young sisters dumped on their somewhat cold aunt as their mother goes off in search of her ne'er do well husband, who in turn dumps them on their aged grandparents when the mother who had faithfully promised to return decides that she can no longer look after them. Somewhat better but far too long was the French film "Little White Lies" (2010) about a group of friends who always spend their holidays together going off as usual despite one of their number lying desperately ill in hospital after a motorcycle crash; it ended predictably in tears but was way too long in the telling. Then there was a Swedish vampire film called "Not Like Others" (2008) which was so very bad that I have now given away the recently acquired disc to bore someone else.
OK, there were a few re-views of oldies in the equation which are usually guaranteed to lift the ante. "Murder He Says" a 1945 Fred MacMurray " 'hillbilly comedy' (a popular if improbable genre once upon a time) retained the odd amusing bit of business but was by and large too dated. "Knight without Armour" paired Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat as a Russian aristo and an Englishman pretending to be a Russian revolutionary back in 1917, well put together with excellent production values, but now largely forgotten. Clint Eastwood is always entertaining in his Dirty Harry persona and continued as such in "Sudden Impact" (1983), the first time he directed himself in this role and featuring his love interest of the time, Sandra Locke (whatever happened to her?). This is the film in which he first says 'Make my day' -- in fact he is so taken with the phrase that he says it twice! The best of the bunch was "The Country Girl" (1954) which won Grace Kelly an Oscar for portraying the dowdy wife of alcoholic ex-bigtime crooner Bing Crosby as he attempts a comeback in William Holden's new play. This was possibly Bing's best dramatic role ever, and although Oscar-nominated, he lost out to Marlon Brando's "On the Waterfront" that year. If anything his performance was more Oscar-worthy than Kelly's which now seems just a tad over-affected and trying to impress by playing against type. The whole enterprise based on an Odets stageplay was somewhat overblown but surprisingly popular at the time.
I won't even mention any of the disposable television movies that filled in the remainder of my viewing since none of them are really worthy of mention, Like I said: BORING.