Monday, 3 September 2007


It’s very rare for me to sleep through anything entertainment-wise (opera notwithstanding), which means one of two things – I’m either very tired, or very, very bored. Watching DVDs can be just as exhausting, but at least you have the benefit of being able to exercise your inalienable right to use the fast forward button. Some films I’ve fast forwarded all the way through, and have suffered no pangs of guilt whatsoever.

Here are some films I’ve seen recently that, to me, are the filmic equivalents of opera: are they just plain bad, or am I missing something? (nothing in this post contains anything that remotely resembles a spoiler, so, you know, don’t send me death threats or anything).

Outlaw, written and directed by Nick Love – I suspect the plot isn’t the reason people watch films like this, which is just as well as it’s a veritable porridge of silliness and improbability.

However, there are two notable things about it I’d like to point out: firstly, it features a stand out performance by Sean Harris, who gives the profession of security guard a thoroughly bad name. Secondly, it features some of the most bloody annoying camerawork I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. Two minutes in: the camera’s wobbling. An attempt to add a touch of a little cinema verité to proceedings? Who knows… Ten minutes in: can you stop it now, please? It’s beginning to get on my tits. Thirty minutes in: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, KEEP THAT BLOODY THING STILL! I have my suspicions that a lot of the wobbling about was added digitally in post-production in order to give things a more ‘realistic’, documentary feel. The only thing it really succeeds in doing is WINDING ME UP! ARGGHH! STOP IT NOW, BEFORE I’M FORCED TO STAPLE MY EYES SHUT!

Phew – it’s over. That’s better.

Nick Love is apparently directing The Sweeney, due to drop in 2009 – I am considering an online petition to tell him to STOP MOVING THAT FUCKING CAMERA AROUND!

Poseidon, directed by Wolfgang Petersen (yes, the dreaded remake of The Poseidon Adventure) – didn’t this one tank big time at the box office? Serves it right if it did. The plot isn’t so much improbable, more completely farcical (there’s Christian, trapped under a lighting rig! My god! That wound on his leg has gone right down to the bone! You know what this means, don’t you? Someone’s going to have to carry him all the way to the end of the movie! Huh! Screw that – he’ll be prancing round like a spring chicken in five minutes time, just you wait and see!).

The original had a coherent plot and characters you cared for – the remake features a plot constructed exclusively from CGI shots and a cast so bland (with the exception of a positively oily Kevin Dillon) you want to mow them down in a dragster.

Hostel, written and directed by Eli Roth – don’t get me wrong, I love horror. My favourite movie of all time is The Shining – but this? What the hell is this?

This is one of the few films I know where you can actually fast forward and still know what’s going on – not that you particularly want to. In fact I fast forwarded and slept through a part of it as well – beat that!

‘Torture porn’ is one big yawn as far as I’m concerned – it’s about as scary as Aled Jones presenting Songs of Praise (which could be scary if you’re a Satanist I guess). Lots of unconvincing running about and effects that look like Halloween make up. I’ll give Hostel II a miss, thanks.

Run Lola Run, written and directed by Tom Tykwer. Lola’s boyfriend loses a bunch of money that belongs to a drug dealer – Lola’s solution? Run everywhere! Right – that’ll help. It should be noted this film does exactly what it says on the tin. Lola runs – and runs – and runs – and then runs some more. By the time you’re thirty minutes in you want to throttle her, if only to stop her from bloody running everywhere. Calm down, dear – it’s only a crap Euro film! Jesus, she runs so much that, at one point, she even turns into a badly animated version of herself.

I was forced to watch this in a dubbed version, so that didn’t help, but it didn’t stop me falling asleep. When I woke up, Lola was still running, so I turned it off in protest.

L’Appartement, written and directed by Gilles Mimouni. Some plots are labyrinthine and complex for a good reason. L’Appartement is labyrinthine and complex because it thinks it’s big and important (well, it is French) – in reality, it’s silly and pointless. Worryingly enough, it appears to have been filmed in the style of an eighties porn flick, which was the only thing that kept me watching.

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS: only joking! See here for some spittle flecked debate. I had a lecturer at Brighton who was a huge fan of exploitation flicks such as SS Experiment Camp, and I Spit on Your Grave, but that’s not important right now.

One day I might actually post something about a film I enjoyed but I wouldn’t hold your breath!


Jon Peacey said...

I once saw Nick Love introduce one of his films: he came across as somewhat nasty and disingenuous. The film was The Football Factory. It was dire. More disturbing was the audience reaction: they were primarily made up of Leeds Utd. fans who seemed to have more than a passing acquaintance with hooliganism. Love's 'dramatic irony' or 'telling it like it is' didn't stop the audience baying for blood particularly if it could come from a non-white character. One of the actors who'd also done the Q&A was visibly embarassed. I feel no shame in admitting it was a very intimidating audience to be in: like being in a pub just before it all kicks off. Love's The Business is also dire: saw that on Film4. Much safer.

Personally, I really liked Run Lola Run (admittedly subtitled) but Tykwer's Heaven is best avoided. How can you screw up a Kieslowski script?

L'Appartment seemed enjoyable at the time but I have completely forgotten it now so it probably wasn't that good. I'll blame Bellucci for destroying my critical faculty on that one. ;-)

I Spit On Your Grave... one of the less enjoyable 90 minutes I've spent!

Chip Smith said...

Outlaw had a very undeveloped feel to it, if you ask me. I always start to worry about films that have had a lot of jiggery pokery added in post-production - it's almost as if the makers don't have enough confidence in the material itself, so they've got to sex it up somehow. Pretty diabolical all round.

And speaking of Bellucci, in spite of what people say, I really like Irreversible - but as you say, maybe her presence does destroy the old critical faculty somewhat!

Jon Peacey said...

I was once given a tutorial on 'fixing things in the edit suite' but I can't really recall much about it as it was a long time ago and a lot of time, 10+ years, and prescription painkillers have flowed under the bridge since then! The basic theory back then was that you can't fix what you haven't shot.

The worst signs are said to be the presence of two DPs or worse still two directors. Can mean enforced reshoots.

I bought a copy of Irreversible a couple of years back and, because of the words of a trusted friend who said it was almost impossibly gruelling, I have so far bypassed it. Maybe it's time to screw my courage to the sticking-place...

Chip Smith said...

Irreversible is certainly gruelling!

There is a horrifically violent rape scene that Noe insists on making you watch all the way through. Bearing in mind the sage words on Lucy's blog on Sunday regarding rape scenes in movies, this is about as bad as it gets. Some of the movie is a bit silly and pointlessly offensive, and some of it is exceptionally powerful and disturbing - all in all, it certainly leaves an impression (which is my way of saying proceed with caution!).