Sunday, 26 September 2010

Filler

So I have seen some films recently. They are: Collateral, Snakes on a Train, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Wet Hot American Summer, The Fountain, Primer, The Expendables, A Serious Man and Megashark vs Giant Octopus. If some of those films sound like shit it is because I quite like crappy films, and cheapo rip-off production company The Asylum is a goldmine of movies that are pants. I have started trying to watch as many of their films as possible, there are loads of just rubbish films and also some rubbish cash-ins of famous films. Transmorphers is their most famous film.

I came across the films of The Asylum accidentally, some mates came around to watch films and Megashark vs Giant Octopus happened to be okay. Featuring some '80s pop star most people would never have heard of (as a marine biologist) and lots of "science" - which in film terms means pouring liquids into beakers until the liquid glows. I'm pretty sure that is how all science works.

Anyway, A Serious Man is a black comedy with a very dark heart - it isn't exactly accessible but it is a very good piece of work. The Expendables, however, is testosterone-soaked dreck. It is a compilation tape of explosions and violence, the acting is eye-rollingly clich├ęd and the writing is laughable. That said some people like it and it is taking millions at the box office, so clearly there is an audience for this pap.

Pap would be a term that could never be applied to Primer - a high-concept science fiction film about a group of scientists who accidentally discover time travel. The story is compelling, complicated and never seems to patronise the viewer. The film unravels a little at the end but overall it is a very interesting film. The Fountain is an engrossing stories-within-stories, parallel tales adventure with stunning visuals; it also showed to me that Hugh Jackman can actually act, which is something I did not know. At times it can seem very pretentious but there are some great performances and if you let yourself be caught up in it, just go with the film, you will be very entertained.

Wet Hot American Summer is a comedy that seems very out of place for the time it was made. For a film made in 2001 it has a "silly comedy" feel that is more reminiscent of the comedies of the late '70s, early '80s. It is pretty alright, however don't expect a classic, or anything spectacularly witty. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is a cash-in film from The Asylum that is without wit, intelligence or reason. The climax is a fight between Sherlock Holmes in a hot-air ballon fitted with machine guns and a bionic man in a giant mechanical, flying, fire-breathing dragon. Whilst an exploding, clockwork woman attempts to blow up Queen Victoria. There is also a mechanical dinosaur that roams the streets of London. In other words it is preposterous. But hey, at least it is a thoroughly original take on the character of Sherlock Holmes. Who the bionic man continually refers to as "Robert".

But enough ridiculous trash, onto quality cinema, and with this I bring forth the example of Snakes on a Train, a startlingly moving piece about the nature of hysteria and irrational scaremongering. Sometimes the most horrifying monsters are those that we create for ourselves - SoaT takes this concept and runs with it until the cows come home. Or rather they run home, screaming, because everybody has "got snakes".

If the above paragraph managed to trick anyone into seeing that awful film my job here is done. Although the previous sentence might give the game away. I was, like, being sarcastic, yeah? It is good, because it's bad but it's sort of not? Which is why it's so bad, but that's also why it is so good? (That's the hipsters baited, in case you were wondering the question marks were to draw attention to the annoying habit some people have of saying everything as if it were a question? Even if it isn't? With that slightly higher inflection of the voice at the end of a sentence?)

Anyway, recently I saw Four Lions, but seeing as I have already seen that film fairly recently there isn't much point writing a mini-review, although I would say it may be better on a second viewing. Collateral is a slightly odd film. Not exactly your typical star vehicle, the talky bits are pretty engrossing, and I felt like the action got in the way. The direction at times was grainy and rough (and I mean that as a compliment) and there was some good dialogue - it felt like both writer and director need to be doing smaller, more intellectual pieces. Michael Mann is a decent director, Stuart Beattie has done some okay stuff, maybe I am just yearning for the talky style of Wes Anderson, which is a bit odd since the only film of his I have seen is Fantastic Mr. Fox (which I didn't really care for).

I am currently trying to sample a number of music artists, to see if there are any albums I desperately need. Using Last.fm as my guide, I am currently listening to playlists of:

Beach House, Beirut, Camera Obscura, Darwin Deez, Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, Modest Mouse, The Drums and The Joy Formidable. I have also been listening to a little bit of Why?, A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under being a current favourite.

This hasn't been all that interesting (but when is this blog?) so for now I will leave a thought: why do all completely straight-from-the-top-of-my-head sentences end up so disjointed, as this one does now?

Rubbish, I know.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

I'm Still Here...

Just to let you (and by you I mean my imaginary readers) know: I am still alive.

I am in Stafford now, meaning I am back at uni and the rain is pouring down the window as I type these words. I have only had one introductory lecture so far - so not quite back in full flow just yet, but I can already feel myself getting back into a student rhythm.

Now I don't have a 9:00 to 5:18 I have more time for discovering music. Or for now, catching up on everything I've missed. I'm thinking of downloading loads of music, 3 tracks per artist with bands I have heard of and bands from my Last.fm recommendations. Slap them together in a playlist, put it on shuffle and pick the best. I've been trying to program something to do it for me for a while, but I couldn't find a decent way to download tracks without duplicates or remixes. Last.fm does it all anyway, it is just that having the MP3s there is a bit more convenient.

I can't talk for much longer, I am trying to find a USB drive with some rather important possibly-could-help-my-final-year-project data on it. Perhaps some more interesting discussion next time. Bye.