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Friday, 25 April 2014

Another week....

I wish I knew why some week's viewing leaves me bereft of enthusiasm. I've seen at least fifteen films in the last seven days (it's actually higher but my attention waned sufficiently during some lesser television movies to omit them from the count). It wasn't a bad selection, although hardly a vintage one, but none of them inspired me to put pen to paper metaphorically speaking. So let's examine a few of them, just for the heck of it:

We'll start with the 'scintillating' four new movies on Sky Premier -- don't get me started on when they had a minimum of five new films each week. It's beginning to annoy me no end that a ridiculous proportion of movies that they offer on a pay-per-view basis never make it to the free Premier channel and that some of them, including some fairly A-list films, just seem to disappear forever. Instead we are usually fobbed off with one 'big-deal' movie, one suitable for five-year olds, and two films which never received any kind of broad release -- to the extent that one thinks, 'where did they dredge those up from?'.

The 'big' premiere this week was Zack Snyder's Superman re-interpretation "Man of Steel" starring some who-is-he? called Henry Cavill. What a drag! Virtually the entire nearly plot-less movie focussed on our hero fending off the evil General Zod who has pursued him from his doomed home planet, whilst taking advice from the apparition of his dead father Jor-El in the shape of Russell Crowe (who kept cropping up every few minutes). Ironically Marlon Brando was paid a fortune in the 1978 movie for a brief appearance as Jor-El; here Crowe didn't even have the good grace to stay dead. Lois Lane (the always lovely Amy Adams) knows from square one that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same, yet the film's finale has him arriving for the first time at the Daily Planet with his trademark glasses-in-disguise -- presumably setting us up for further CGI-enhanced adventures to come from Snyder and Cavill. Goody!

As for the other three films, there was an adequate animation called "Epic" which had our teenaged heroine shrunk in size to join the 'leaf-men' and other eco-denizens of the forest to keep us all green. Yawn! The remaining two were moderately interesting but very minor. In the Australian flick "Adore" middle-aged best friends Naomi Watts and Robin Wright begin affairs with each other's teenaged sons with ultimately unsatisfactory results all round. In a British movie from a few years back "Ashes", Jim Sturgess busts out Ray Winstone from the institution where he has been hospitalized with a violent form of Alzheimer's, by pretending to be his long lost son, having been sent on this errand by a vicious gangster who wants revenge. OK, reasonably well-done and something of an acting stretch for Winstone, but hardly a special treat for us faithful Sky subscribers. If I came across this movie in a late-night slot on another channel, I might have been impressed, but not for prime-time fun and games.

My YouTube viewing for the week was an equally mixed bag. This included the 1934 oddity "Crime without Passion", with its remarkable montage intro and other nifty camerawork throughout, as hot-shot lawyer Claude Rains tries to get away with killing his mistress. "Give out Sisters" from 1942 had the ever-tuneful Andrews Sisters dressing up and pretending to be three old stuffy biddies who didn't want their ward to become a nightclub entertainer. (I know, they couldn't make them like this any more.) 1959's "The Devil Disciple", based on a Shaw play and filmed in England with the frequent pairing of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Colonial rebels was  pretty mundane, but I did want to see them mix it up again with Laurence Olivier's General Burgoyne. Finally I tried Costa-Gavras's highly rated "Stage of Siege" from 1972, set in an unnamed South American country and exposing evil-doing on all sides of the fence; worthy, worthy, worthy but ultimately so depressing that I gave up on it. Just what sort of a film critic are you, PPP?

As for the rest of the week's films, only two bear mentioning. First there was Stifler, i.e. Seann William Scott playing a slightly dim but definitely loyal hockey team member in "Goon". The ex-bouncer has only been given a contract because of his skill in beating up the opposition -- mainly in the unlikely form of Liev Schreiber. I actually found this movie remarkably sweet-natured, despite the violence, as Scott falls in love with 'slut' Alison Pill (who I just didn't recognize at first with short dark hair). And talking about violence -- non-stop in this instance, I watched the DVD of 2011's "The Raid", an unlikely popular hit from expatriate Welshman Gareth Evans who turned out this Indonesian (!) bash-'em-up. With its sequel now in cinemas, I was curious to see the original and its martial arts hero Iwo Uwais in action. Not much of a story admittedly, but bloody fisticuffs galore if that floats your boat.

Let's see what next week brings...

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