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For people who don't actually like movies all that much.

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I'd review Kingdom of Heaven, but really all I have to say about it is that I don't understand how so many great actors can all have agreed to take part in such a terrible, terrible film.
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My goodness, how is it that nobody in either the Discworld or Potter fandoms has informed me of the brilliance of House of Cards? Fans of Vetinari will want to see this film, I guarantee you, and I should think that the Potterfans interested in Voldemort's rise and the politics of it will be intrigued as well. It's rather like The West Wing meets Macbeth, with a vaguely Brechtian twist.

The BBC miniseries "House of Cards" originally showed up in my Netflix recommendations, I can't recall why -- I think it's because I have a few of the old Sherlock Holmes programs netflixed, oddly enough. It looked like it was right up my alley, actually, so I gave it a go and I've been fairly pleasantly surprised. It concerns the rise to power of a Tory Chief Whip who schemes, blackmails, and eventually murders in his quest to become Prime Minister after the death of Margaret Thatcher (it was made in 1990; the joke is that her death is the only thing which could stop her Ministry). Apparently it's based on a book, which I am definitely going to read.

Cut for length and mild spoilers.Collapse )
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(X-posted to my journal)


I finally held my nose, plunged in and watched the movie Constantine.


Yup.




Oh, right, I'm supposed to say something about it, aren't I?

Okay. The good news is I haven't blinded myself with an ice pick or run amok in the Warner Bros. building with a flamethrower. Yet.

This movie reminds me of a specific kind of fanfic: one of those AUs where everyone is so out-of-character you wonder why the author didn't just change the names and call it an original fic. Because this movie had far less to do with ol' Conjob than it did with Bladerunner, a couple of the Alien movies, Angel Heart... my gods, the list is endless.

I wish there had been some Endless in this movie. No such luck. Sigh. But there were some angels and demons, naturally. Tilda Swinton played the Angel Gabriel in a role very reminiscent of the Angel Islington from Neverwhere (put that one on the list too!). One of these days poor Tilda will get to play an actual human being of determinate gender. Until then, she put in a day or two of work and paid her rent and even though she basically phoned in the part, she was still the best character in the movie. The less said about the rest of the actors and characters, the better. Especially Keanu, with his Big Fuckin' Crucifix Gun of Holy Kick-Assitude.

No, really! He had a shotgun shaped like a crucifix. That alone almost made me go for the ice pick and the flamethrower.

On the other hand, the images of Hell were very reminiscent of Tim Bradstreet's covers for the Hellblazer comic. I only wish they had been as faithful to the spirit of the comic.

Honestly, I do know why they couldn't simply change the names and call it an original movie: they wanted to plunder Hellblazer canon. Because Hellblazer has some absolutely rockin' canon. And anyone who's been following John's career as long as I have can see tiny flickers and shadows of very famous moments of his history in this movie; they've been watered down and whitewashed and mashed to a pulp, but they're there. They're there enough so that if the names were changed, you'd have to call it plagarism. But it's a typical case of Hollywood castration -- the Powers That Be wanted to cash in on the Constantine cachet without actually having to get down and dirty with the old bastard himself.

I'm not going to start in on everything that was "wrong" with this movie, because if I started I would NEVER EVER STOP AND I WOULD TAKE A FLAMETHROWER AND AN ICE PICK AND ---

Ahem.

Instead, I'm going to say that for a whitewashed, watered-down generic Hollywood occult flick, Constantine doesn't entirely suck. Not entirely.

Other than that, I'll limit my comments to two:

First, it's Constan-TYNE, not Constan-TEEN.

And last, but not least, the final moment of the movie sums up everything that is wrong with this abomination of an adaption -- if that had really been John, truly John, that would have been a cigarette, not a goddamned stick of gum.
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Beyond the Sea (x-posted to my journal)

Why was "Beyond the Sea" made? Because Kevin Spacey wanted it. He wanted to play Bobby Darin, and he has the money and he has the clout, so he produced it and directed it and starred in it, by gods. And by gods, we're all supposed to watch it and go "oooh" and "aaah" and applaud and nominate it for Oscars (tm).

Um, no.

Bobby Darin was an arsehole. Personally, I'm sick of talented people who feel they can get away with being arseholes because they're "driven". Spending 2 hours watching a movie about such a person is, to me, the equivalent of being tied down and forced to listen to a dentist-drill symphony.

So why, you may ask, did I watch it? It was on pay-per-view, I was bored, I like "Mack the Knife."

Oh yeah. Bobby Darin did a cover of "Mack the Knife". He also had a few other hits, a few Grammys (tm) and an Oscar (tm) nomination back in the early '60's.

Have I mentioned how much I loathe the early '60's? I'm allowed to, I was born in '63, two weeks after the Kennedy assassination. (That's John F., for you kids.) I don't like the pop music of that era, I don't like the clothing, and I don't like the home decor. I don't like "camp", I don't like "kitsch", and I hated bellbottoms the first time around, thank you very much.

This movie is all about the pop music, the clothing and the home decor of the early '60's. I'm probably not the best person to be writing about it.

Poor Bobby Darin has rheumatic fever as a kid, so everyone thought he wouldn't survive until the age of 15, so that makes him "driven". He grows up, though, so that should give him a clue that it's okay to chill a bit, especially if he doesn't want his heart to blow a valve. But nope, he's driven all the way to toupee-wearing adulthood and marriage to Sandra Dee, the White-Bread-and-Mayo movie princess. And then he's an arsehole to her. And she drinks. And then comes the late '60's and poor Bobby has a crisis because he needs to find himself. So he does. And then he dies. And there's a lot of singing, and some dancing, and Kevin Spacey emotes, and all his pals like John Goodman and Bob Hoskins get to play Rat Pack wannabes with names like "Boom Boom" (I kid you not).

copperbadge says it's hard to make biopics "Because real lives generally do not have an aristotelian climax or four tidy acts." So if you ask me my opinion (and if you're reading this, that means you're asking my opinion), biopics should only be made about people whose lives are unique enough to hold an audience's interest.

I suppose Kevin Spacey felt that Bobby Darin's life would hold an audience's interest because it interested him, and by gods, he has the money and the clout and he's gonna make this movie. Which actually reminds me of the way Bobby behaves in this movie. So in a sense, this movie tells me just as much about Kevin Spacey as it does about Bobby Darin. I just hope nobody makes a movie about Kevin Spacey's life. Because while Kevin Spacey is a very fine actor indeed, he's probably an arsehole too.
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I believe a brilliant lyricist once wrote: "Whatever happened to fair dealing?/And pure ethics/And nice manners?" I have the same bone to pick with movies these days, only replace "fair dealing" and "pure ethics" and "nice manners" with "coherent plot" and "actual story to tell" and "characters who are people rather than symbolic of their Kind." I am not a lyricist, so this replacement system doesn't actually scan. But you get the general idea. My rage comes from a recent foray into the extensive gay-film collection that Netflix has to offer, and of which I have availed myself, sadly, to no avail. The vast majority of these gay films are either porn or experimental, and by "experimental" I generally mean "boring."

Madagascar Skin, which advertised itself on IMDB as "a romantic treat," is presumably about true love amongst oddballs on the beach. However, I should have known better when that description came with the following disclaimer: "Some may find the symbolic shots of starfish, cuttlefish, crabs (and shoes?) stranded on a beach distracting, while the dream-sequences sometimes disrupt what is basically a straight-forward story." But, I am gullible and never heed the warning signs, and so I sat down one evening to watch the film.

I don't know if these count as spoilers, since there is nothing really to spoil.Collapse )
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This is a test review to see how this thing works.

Well, all right, I have two confessions to make.

The first is that I have never been that fond of Tim Burton. The second is that I am fascinated by mass-production machines. "Unwrapped" on the Food Network is one of my favourite shows because they always show you the factory production lines in action.

So right from the start I was sucked into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because of the opening scene, which is an imaginative and fantastical trip through the workings of a Wonkabar machine.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. No serious significant spoilers.Collapse )

PREVIEWS I SAW TODAY:

New Pride and Prejudice: Well, it'll be interesting to see a new take on it, but I think that Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle defined Darcy and Elizabeth so thoroughly that anything else looks like it's trying too hard. I am not ashamed to admit I have the A&E miniseries on tape and I watch it. THAT'S RIGHT I DO. So I'll probably try to see this just for the sake of comparison. Also, Judi Dench. She rocks my sandals.

Wallace and Gromit Movie: I'm a sucker for claymation and I would kill to work for Nick Park. Sign me up for opening night.

The new Zorro movie: Ugh. Action flick with horses. I'll pass. It looks like it's going to try to combine family entertainment (Zorro has a kid! OMG!) with action-adventure, and that rarely comes off. You're no Jack Sparrow, Zorro.

March of the Emperor Penguins: A documentary about Emperor Penguin mating habits narrated by Morgan Freeman. The preview gave me goosebumps.

Corpse Bride: Another Tim Burton animated film in the style of Nightmare Before Christmas. I might see this. It features Johnny Depp, who tends to choose good scripts (and what, is he under contract to Burton personally?) and Depp's character looks like him, which is sort of creepy. I'm not a big fan of Burton's take on corpses, however.
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