The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Archive for January 2012

Cancer with a smile

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On May 11 2001 my father died from cancer, exactly four months before 9/11. Those two events are tied together in my mind. For most of my life my father was Superman. He was like an encyclopedia on two legs. He appeared to have everything under control until the cancer came and it turned out that he didn’t. Besides he worked in a field that was related to fighting terrorists and illegal weapons.  I couldn’t let go of the weird idea that if he only had been alive, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened. Or if it happened, he would have explained it, like he explained the periodical system or the concept of more than three dimensions.

But he had no solution for cancer so he died and 9/11 happened and as little as I could prevent it could I understand it or accept it.

They say there’s this mourning process you need to get through when someone dies but after ten years mine hasn’t even started. There is a locked door to my emotions that I reckon I should open but I can’t bring myself to do it. I tell myself that one day I will, only not today. Tomorrow maybe. When I’m strong and mature enough. I push it forward, one day at a time.

And I’m telling you all of this just to make you understand why I watch every movie about people dying or almost dying in cancer or losing their parents in cancer that comes in my way.

Sometimes those films trigger me to cry a little bit, letting out a little bit of whatever is hidden behind that mental door I have. Sometimes they don’t.

The cancer humor
The last one I watched was 50/50 and it only made me cry properly once (a scene between the guy with the cancer disease and his mother, which really messed me up.) On the other hand I laughed or at least giggled quite a bit. For how weird as it sounds, this story about a young man who all of a sudden gets a severe form of cancer with 50 percents chance of survival is more of a lighthearted romantic comedy than it is a gripping close-to-death drama.

It’s actually not all that strange. Cancer is dark and scary and horrible, yes, of course it is, but it also puts you in situations you hadn’t imagined, makes you do things you never thought you would do and you can’t but smile at it in all its absurdity. This disease gives you a quite twisted sense of humor, which I think 50/50 reflects very well.

There are for instance some funny scenes where the cancer patients eat marijuana cookies as a pain killer and this immediately tossed me eleven years back in time, thinking of my own experiences of this.

My parents used to live in Netherlands, where the view on such things is vastly different from in Sweden. When my father was in his terminal stage and there was nothing to do but to wait and try to keep the pain as low as possible, a nurse recommended us to bake him some cookies with marijuana. To her it was as natural as if she had recommended us to give him vitamins. It’s sold openly in coffee shops where anyone over 18 is allowed.

For me and my mother the thought of entering one of those shops was shocking. She could as well have told us to buy heroine by a drug dealer in a backyard. But again: cancer makes you do things you didn’t think you’d do. While my husband stayed outside with our kids, mom and I entered on trembling legs, cleared our throats and did our purchase. And then we went home and made cookies. I can still remember the nauseating smell. The stench filled the apartment. And my father didn’t like them particularly much so most of them ended up in the trash. But thinking about how lost we were in that coffee shop still makes me smile wryly.

What I thought
But I’m losing myself in memories here. Let’s head back to 50/50.  What did I make of it? Well, admittedly there were elements I didn’t like all that much. Did the girl friend need to be THAT shallow? Did the psychiatrist need to look like a young cheerleader? How believable was that? Did his friend have to be completely obsessed with getting chicks and getting laid? It got a bit tiresome. On the whole I liked it well enough, but it didn’t break into my top 10 list of 2011, which I kind of had expected it to do considering the topic. I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to love it. Perhaps I could have done with a few more cries.

My 17 year old daughter on the other hand was super enthusiastic, but from a slightly different perspective. She told me that she had watched it vanilla, so the whole thing about the cancer theme came as a complete surprise to her. All she knew, all she even cared about, was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the leading actor in it, the same guy who had made her watch 500 Days of Summer at least four times, if not more.

“He’s so CUTE!” “Did you see his dimples?” “I want to watch this movie again. Three times is a minimum!” she exclaimed as we walked towards the car.

I gave her a hug and asked her if she’d push me away the way Joseph’s character did to his mother if she got cancer.

“No way!” she said, smiling at me. “I’d use it! You would get me ANYTHING, wouldn’t you?”

I nodded. Indeed I would. Anything.

50/50 (Jonathan Levine, US, 2011)  My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 31, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in 50/50

The resonance of Tyrannosaur

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It’s been over a week since I watched Tyrannosaur and it’s resonating in me, as mighty as the parent bell in the cathedral in my city, lingering in the air long after the ringing has stopped. It’s as if a dinosaur just had passed by, the ground still trembling with fear.

Let me be clear on this point though: giant lizards isn’t the topic of this film. It’s not a Jurassic Park wannabe. If you want to sort your movies into boxes, think rather in the terms of gritty British misery, like Mike Leigh in his darker moments. It hits some of the tones of Naked, but with a slightly brighter lining.

And I can’t stop thinking about it. The images are too strong, to vivid, impossible to watch, impossible to look away from.

If there’s anything I can’t stand watching on a movie screen, it would be cruelty towards animals and sexual and physical abuse of women. Tyrannosaur has both, in abundance.

Joseph and Hannah
Joseph is a working class man who drinks too much and is full of unspeakable rage. The only language he seems to know is violence. In one of the first scenes we see him beating up a dog until it dies. Then we see him mourning. It turns out that it was his own dog – and about the only friend he had in the world.

Hannah is on the surface better off, living a middleclass life in a nice house with a nice car, spending her days in a Christian charity second hand shop where he offers prayers to those who seem to need it. And that’s how she gets to know Joseph, as he one day stumbles into her shop, taking shelter from the world and from his miserable life.

But it doesn’t take long before it’s clear that for all her prayers and good heart, Hannah’s life is no better than Josephs. We realize this as we get our first glimpse of her husband, who on his late arrival at home one night walks up to the couch where Hannah is pretending to sleep and pees on her. It marks the beginning of a row of cruelties and acts of unspeakable humiliation that he puts her through. And like Joseph, she has no one to turn to ask for help.

Needless to say, Tyrannosaur is a tough watch. It’s also dealing with an old topic, domestic violence against women. Is it still worth watching? Yes, definitely, if you ask me. It would have a 5/5 rating for me, if it wasn’t for the last 10 minutes, which felt a little rushed, as if they’d suddenly run out of budget and wanted to put an end to it as quickly as possible.

Amazing acting
The quality of the movie isn’t as much about the story as it is about the amazing acting by Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman in the leading roles. They are multidimensional and go far beyond the cliché of the hateful, violent brute or the spineless, submissive victim. In the fear and weakness there’s also strength. In the aggression there are strokes of tenderness and love. I could swear that Joseph and Hannah exist for real, and that’s about as good as acting can get I guess.

Tyrannosaur made me go into places, getting to know people and environments that I usually would make big extra rounds to avoid at any costs.

And the bells keep ringing. Mostly in minor, but if I pay attention I can hear the major, hopeful and soothing.

Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, UK, 2011) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

January 30, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Tyrannosaur

Musings over a letter from Terry Gilliam

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I got an e-mail from Terry Gilliam this week.

Pretty cool, huh? Can you imagine the surprise? My heart popped. Why was this happening? He is a famous film maker. I’m nobody. I was planning to write a post about his new short film, The Wholly Family, but how did he know?

After enjoying this sweet idea for about a nanosecond I realized that I wasn’t the only receiver of this mail. It had probably been sent out in thousands, if not millions of copies. It was just a marketing device.

If I understood Terry correctly (the letter was signed “Terry” and he’s addressing me “Dear Jessica”, so I suppose that means that we’re friends and it’s okay for me to call him by his first name), he had a suggestion for me. He wanted me to help him to promote his film, which is available as view-on demand by sharing it on Facebook. That would render me 10 percent of whatever profit he made on it, an offer I’m afraid I’ll have to decline; I don’t even have a Facebook page, so this letter was a bit of a waste.

But apart from that I suppose he’s doing the right thing. It’s probably a good idea for a filmmaker of today to engage in viral marketing if you want to stay in business and would prefer to try out your own ideas to work on the fourth sequel in a superhero franchise on decline.

The world is changing. We need to adapt.  Terry realizes this. He’s a modern man; he’s flexible; he grabs the opportunities that arise.

And yet – I can’t completely rid myself of the thought that something is wrong. I can’t shake off the sadness in it.

The icky feeling
Terry Gilliam should be making the next Brazil or 12 Monkeys. He shouldn’t be doing this. It’s like watching the leading violinist of the best symphony orchestra in the world (knowing little of the classical music scene I can’t give you a name but you surely can thing of someone) turning into a street musician, playing for nickels and dimes.

I’m one of those who tossed him a few coins. That’s why I got the letter. I paid a couple of bucks to watch the film online through an offer at the website of The Guardian.

I’m not the only sponsor of Terry’s. He’s got a bigger one as well, in the form of a pasta producer in Italy which  gave him free hands with two minor exceptions as long as they could slap their logo on the film, like any production company.

I suppose that’s a fair deal and while there actually is some pasta appearing in the film, I’d have to struggle hard to say that it’s a sell-out. I’ve seen far worse product placement in ordinary movies.

While Terry is doing the best he can to be cheerful and positive about it, it’s apparent that it’s not what he’d like to do if given the choice. The whole thing feels a bit icky.

Live blogging
The Guardian ran a live blogging event in connection to a Q & A session with Terry. Here’s a sample:

“7.07pm: Peter wonders if this is a route back into conventional film-making. Not really, says Terry, but it seems to be what people want. He doesn’t want to make films for the internet – movies are for the big screen, but that’s the way the world’s going.

7.07pm: Terry’s talking about the Italian premiere of his version of the Damnation of Faust. “Last year was my year of experimentation – short films and operas. I’m trying to work out a career for myself”.

7.09pm: The Wholly Family was a way to work in Naples. The only conditions from the pasta company was that it was set in the city (it is) and nobody dies (they don’t).

Terry says that short films like this are a realistic prospect for him because the middle group – those who don’t want to make blockbusters, but need a mid-range budget to realise their ambitions – are getting squeezed out of modern Hollywood.”

So Terry is making films for the internet when he’d rather make them for the big screen. And similarly I’d prefer to see his films on a big screen sitting in a comfortable armchair to looking at my computer screen, my ears covered with a headset, trying to convince myself that my desktop chair is just as nice (it isn’t). What a world we live in.

What feels even worse (and I’m reluctant to say it since I love some of his previous films so much and really want him to keep doing films): I wasn’t really a fan of this short.

Lagging issues
One reason is that I’m not particularly fond of Italian circus music, masquerade traditions or dream sequences in movies (apart from in Inception) and The Wholly Family has all of this. But even so I might have overcome those aversions and liked it if it wasn’t for one major problem, which had nothing to do with Terry’s quality as a film maker: the film lagged. The staggering movements of the actors made them sometimes look as if they were doing a robot look-a-like peformance in a street. And what was worse: the sound didn’t sync properly with the picture. It was as if the voices and the images were different entities, kept in different layers and it made the whole thing quite unpalatable. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Not being a technician I don’t know who’s to blame. I suppose it could be a problem with my computer or IP, but I wouldn’t think so. I’ve got a high-speed connection and normally I don’t have any trouble watching streaming media.

Terry doesn’t want me to sit in front of a computer watching a staggering film where people aren’t allowed to die because it might look bad for the sponsoring pasta company. He wants the real thing as much as I do. But sadly enough this is the best we can get at this point.

There’s a good reason why nostalgia is the theme of the year at the Oscars. People dream back to a time when a movie was a movie and not a marketing vehicle for pasta to be spread over Facebook.

The toast of this week goes to Terry. For the problems I had I wish this film will be a success. And I wish that you’ll get back to where you belong. In a proper theatre.


Written by Jessica

January 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Posted in The Wholly family

Finding someone who will love you all the way down to hell

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“If I’ll ever find someone who will love me all the way down to hell, I’ll stay there”.

This was the tagline of a Swedish movie, Love Me! This film from 1986 is mostly remembered because it was one of the biggest failures in Swedish film history after being delayed for several years and exceeding the budget with 50 percent. The director wasn’t let anywhere near a film production for 17 years since the industry had lost confidence in him.
Anyway – as far as I recall the film was OK, but that’s about all I remember. It opened the same night as the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot in an open street, so I guess our attention was somewhere else at that time.

One thing stuck with me though after all those years, and I remember it as clearly as if I had watched it yesterday: the tagline that was quoted in trailers and ads for the film.

 “If I’ll ever find someone who will love me all the way down to hell, I’ll stay there”.

The words come from a troublesome teenage girl who has lived her entire life in foster homes. She’s provocative and demanding and frankly pretty annoying and I wouldn’t blame the foster parent who gave up on her. She asks for unconditional love, no less. And how do you know that the love is unconditional? You pull it to its furthest edge, making yourself impossible to love. In hell can you see what kind of love it is.

I hadn’t thought of this movie for a good many years, but the tagline came back to my mind as I watched The Kid with a Bike by the Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

11 year old Cyril is only at his first foster home, but he certainly doesn’t make it easy to love him. If it wasn’t for Samantha, who steps into his life, takes him under her wings on the weekends and him a break from the orphanage where his father has put him, I would expect him to end up in a bad place.

“It’s him or me”, exclaims Samantha’s frustrated boyfriend, who isn’t an angel but a normal person.

“Him”, says Samantha without a moment of hesitation, thus making me tear up. It’s a standpoint she’ll get the chance to rethink this quite a few times as Cyril continues to make worse and worse choices.

I’ve often heard it said about movies that in most cases you could easily cut it down 20 minutes and it would only get better. But The Kid with a Bike has already gone through that process and it’s only 1,5 hours long. This means that we stick to the essentials. No time is wasted on irrelevant side plots or lengthy explanations about where those people are coming from. I get as much as that Cyril is in a crappy spot but I don’t get to know why Cyril’s father can’t take care of him. Is he just an egotistical asshole or is there something more to it? Has he done something criminal? And what happened to his mother? Not a clue. What’s life like at the orphanage? We only get a glimpse if even that. And who is this Samantha? An angel trying out the life as a mortal? Is she real? It’s like a fairytale; there are very few details. Not that I miss them. This movie is like a nice port – it’s concentrated so you only need a little of it.

In spite of the format The Kid with a Bike deals with big issues: love, loss, betrayal, revenge and forgiveness. I’ve seen some critics claiming it’s biblical. Perhaps they can’t imagine any unconditional love existing without divine inspiration.

If you ask me it’s just deeply human. There are a lot of shitty parents out there, but that doesn’t mean that their kids need to grow up without ever experiencing unconditional love. The Kid with a Bike is a good reminder of that. We may need to follow the kids and love them down to hell. But we don’t need to let them stay there.

The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, BE 2011) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 26, 2012 at 1:00 am

Scattered thoughts on the Oscar nominations from a Swedish perspective

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I hear you people. The buzz about the Oscar nominations is everywhere. I could sulk and put up a signpost at my café, claiming this to be an Oscar free zone. After all I’ve only had the chance to see a fraction of the most talked-about movies. Or I could embrace it and give it a go anyway because the Oscar frenzy is here and there’s no way to escape it anyway.

I choose the latter. So here we go folks: my first reactions to the nomination list.

Getting out of our bubble

First of all: The Oscar nominations is a good time for film buffs to get out of their bubble.

So Shame didn’t get a single nomination. Drive got one for the “sound editing” – whatever that means. Call me a noob, but I have no idea of what distinguishes “sound editing” from “sound mixing” (they are different categories.) And exactly what constitutes a good “sound”? Is it that they are particularly good at finding up faked sounds of punches and explosions and such? Well, I’ll leave that question for now. All I know is that neither Michael Fassbender, nor Ryan Gosling got nominated for best actor.

For someone who is spending most of her film-related time dwelling in forums and blogs and podcasts with other nerds, this was a little shocking. We loved those movies and performances so much! Haven’t they seen any of the love we’ve shed over it over the year? They deserved a nod!

But let’s face it. We live in our own little world with our own trends, our own darlings, our own preferences. The Academy lives in a different world with different rules, different considerations and in the end sometimes very different choices.

As a matter of fact it appears as if my 65 year old mother-in-law, who goes to the movies once every second year – at the most – has more in common with the Academy than I have. She watched The Help months ago and urged me to watch it since it was so good. I felt quite lukewarm towards it after what I’d read and the fact that SHE liked it so much made me even more reluctant to watch it. I know, I have prejudices against mothers-in-law. So I ended up not doing it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’ll turn out to be a fan of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as well. She’s got a sense of what’s an Oscar worthy movie that I obviously lack.

The ones I missed

For all I said above about film buffs living in an isolated bubble I can’t refrain from sharing a few of the names and movies I miss most. No Oscar post is complete without it!

1. The Skin I Live In
With the risk of being repetitive – this is one of my favourite movies of 2011 and it was a shame that Spain didn’t nominate it for best foreign film. The Academy could have picked it for a different category. They didn’t. I disagree.

2. Senna
With the exception of Pina, I’ve never heard of the films in the documentary category. Perhaps they’re awesome. I still find it hard to imagine that all five of them are better than Senna. It’s mindboggling that it didn’t even make it to the short list. I would also have loved to see This is Not a Film getting a nod. I don’t know why it didn’t. Perhaps not spread enough? Perhaps not politically OK? Perhaps it’s not considered a film (Panaha calls it “an effort”).

3. Melancholia
OK, I get it. Lars von Trier has made himself quite impossible in PR situations. And what’s the Oscar if not one huge PR arrangement? No one wants to let him anywhere near media. I figure the Academy wanted to save themselves some troubles. I might have done the same in their situation, what do I know? I still think it’s sad. If The Tree of Life could get some love despite being off the beaten track, Melancholia could have gotten it as well.

4. Miscellaneous complaints
I would have loved to see some more love for Beginners. Best screenplay perhaps? The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is competing in the visual effects category, but I’d rather have seen Andy Sirkis nominated. He’s more than just a visual effect, isn’t he? And no love for Hanna? At least the score should have gotten a mentioning. I know a lot of people will be sad at the disregarding of Tintin. I wasn’t a fan myself, but I can understand if they’re puzzled.

The Swedish perspective

The Swedish candidate, Beyond, wasn’t among the nominated foreign films and to be honest I’m OK with that. I’m not opposed to showing misery on screen, but watching Noomi Rapace doing absolutely nothing expect looking generally sulky in a tableau gets tiresome after a while. 2011 just wasn’t a particularly memorable year for Swedish film. Tomas Alfredson became an export and Lukas Moodysson seems to have tired on making films. Still there were a couple of Swedish connections to mention.

One is obviously the love for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with three nominations. Some of the light on Oldman belongs to Alfredson, right?

I was also delighted to see Max von Sydow nominated for best supporting actor. I’m a huge fan of him. He’s got a crazily diverse list of roles. He’s done silly roles in super hero movies such as Flash Gordon and he’s worked with some of the biggest directors such as Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman. His range and productivity is outstanding and I would love to see him grab an Oscar one day. Sadly enough he’s competing with Christopher Plummer, who was fantastic in Beginners and deserves an Oscar just as much. It’s a tough call. I’ll be happy if either of them wins (in the case of von Sydow for old love’s sake; I haven’t seen this particular movie).

The third Swedish connection is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nominated for the best actress category. I liked her a lot, but I wouldn’t say that she’s better for the role than Noomi Rapace. It’s not her fault; Fincher just made some different choices. I preferred her a little older and less vulnerable. Swedish connection or not though – there were other actresses I’d rather have seen winning, but they weren’t even nominated: Olivia Coleman in Tyrannosaur. Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Elena Anaya in The Skin I Live In.

In the end: I don’t think we’re supposed to agree with the Oscar nominations. On the contrary: it’s a take-off for discussions, an excuse for us to go through all the movies from 2011 yet another time.

It’s working as intended. I’m actually starting to become a little bit interested in this Oscar business. I blame my blogging. I might even consider watching it this year. 🙂

Written by Jessica

January 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Hitting my head for not watching this one in a theatre

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I love to go to the cinema. Given the choice I’d watch all films in a proper theatre. Popcorn smell and mobile rattling aside, it gives an experience I never get at home. It’s epic. It’s immersive. It brings me to places. It captures my mind and locks out the trivialities of life with a power field, an almost impenetrable shield.

Hence I go a lot to the movies. Over the last year I’ve been scored about one cinema visit per week, which makes me a good customer and the holder of a golden card, the top level of the multiplex theatre’s loyalty program.

But I can’t watch everything in a theatre – for time reasons and for budget reasons. Unavoidably some movies will be left out for the moment, to be picked up later on after their DVD release. In most cases this works pretty fine but sometimes you watch something that you realize you should have watched in a theatre because it was made for a bigger format.

And you hit yourself hard in the head for not grabbing the chance where you had it.

I know a lot of people feel like that about The Tree of Life from last year. I managed to catch that one. But I missed out on another one for some inexplicable reason, which I’m finally caught up with now: The Way Back. I’m hitting my head. Hard. I should have seen it on a big screen when I could.

My love for Peter Weir
Peter Weir’s name should have been reason enough for me to see it the proper way. You see, I’ve liked quite a few of his movies in the past. They’re wildly different to each other and to be honest I can’t quite tell what the uniting factor is- apart from that they’re good.

Truman Show! Picnic at Hanging Rock! Even Dead Poets Society warrants an exclamation mark. It was unfortunate that I somehow was overexposed to it for a while, which has given it a backlash in my memory. But I think it’s more a case of an overdose, like when you’ve had too much of a certain type of food and suddenly start question if you really like it than that the film actually is bad.

Another Weir film that deserves a special mentioning is one of his earliest, The Cars that Ate Paris from 1974. This is a weird little movie about a small town in Australia where the inhabitants make a living of causing car accidents, picking all the valuables from them. It oozes of low budget and has a 5,4 rating on IMDb, which of cause increases my love for it. Don’t we all need to have a little darling that few people have heard of and even fewer like?

Then there are other Weir movies that are more forgettable. I’m thinking of Green Card, with Gérard Depardie and Andie MacDowell arranging a pretence marriage. It’s a standard romantic comedy, no less, no more. So let’s just forget about it and pretend someone else made it.

Survival theme
All in all Weir is a director I want to follow so I should have watched it. Besides it had a theme that was right up my alley: survival in the wilderness under harsh circumstances. It’s a genre I never grow tired of that includes movies such as 127 hours, Into the Wild, Alive and Touching the Void. I might even include The Road in it. Movies that are designed to make me thankful of what I have in life: the ability to sneak into the kitchen to have a sandwich at night. The option to take a shower in the morning. A soft pillow to hug.

The Way Back is exactly that kind of film, telling the story about a group of prisoners who escaped a gulag camp in Siberia and walked 4 000 miles, ending up in Tibet. It’s a long trip and they endure everything you could possibly think of – hunger, thirst, snow- and sandstorms, mosquitoes, illness and exhaustion.

What makes it especially well suited for a theatre experience is the grandness of it. Those people aren’t just poking around in one small spot where they eat roots, snails or whatever they can get hold of.  The landscapes they’re moving through are no short of magnificent. While the actors are just fine (with a special mentioning to Colin Farrell who shows that he’s far more than just “that actor with the eyebrows” and to Saoirse Ronan, who quickly is becoming one of my favorite actors – astonishingly good for her age), they’re still kind of small and interchangeable compared to the one who has the leading role: Nature itself.

Without knowing, my guess is that The Way Back probably wasn’t a huge hit at the box office. Such a long movie, which basically mostly is just a long stretched out walk of suffering – no romance, no giggles, very little excitement or action – is a hard sell to most people.

But I’m a weird person (no puns intended). I loved it.

And next time a Peter Weir film turns up at a theatre I promise to watch it at once. No matter what strange new direction his career will take next.

The Way Back (Peter Weir, US, 2010) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 24, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in The Way Back

That’s a funny way to sell a movie

with 22 comments

I think you know how I feel about remakes by now. In most cases they’re completely unnecessary. The argument “but Americans don’t want to read subtitles” just isn’t good enough to me. I’ve already made my view known on this and I wouldn’t mention it again if it wasn’t for a cover of that I recently got in my hands that boggled my mind.

The movie in question was Timecrimes, a Spanish science fiction movie.

This is a fun time-paradox story about a Hector, an ordinary man, who accidentally ends up in a time travel machine which sends him back to just about an hour earlier.

As we all know messing with time is a tricky thing. You can easily end up with consequences you didn’t think of and putting things right again can be harder than you think.

If you’re into that kind of stories, like I am, Timecrimes is an enjoyable little gem of a movie. As opposed to the case of Primer, I could pretty much follow all twists and loops it makes. Almost at least. If I lost something, it wasn’t crucial to my enjoyment.

Of course it’s got the distinct feeling of being low-budget, a style that reminded me of a short film rather than a full length feature movie. There is a time machine of course, but the design is simple. There are no spectacular special effects to speak of andI didn’t think about the cinematography or music, so I suppose it wasn’t anything extraordinary and as of the acting… Well, let’s say it’s not intended to build deep psychological portrays. But that’s not the point. Time travel stories aren’t generally about showing drama and insight to the depths of mankind. It’s about exercising your brain and having some fun.

I realize that it probably isn’t altogether easy to write cover texts for films. Especially in this case, there wasn’t much space the cover designer had to work with. The text on the backside was in four different languages, so the length of the “elevator pitch” was down to just slightly above the limitations for a tweet.

You would think that the copyrighter who had gotten the task to say something about this film would make an effort to write something really catchy, something that would be the tipping point and win the potential viewer over, making the decision to pick up this movie and not the one from the competitor.

What do you think they came up with? Considering the beginning of this post you might have an idea. Yep.

“Dreamworks will make an American remake in 2012”.

You could read this in two ways. The first one is:

“We all know that European films suck and we don’t expect you to consider watching a Spanish one, but this one has Hollywood approval, so give it a chance”.

The second one is:

“This will be made in a full-fledged Hollwood version as soon as this year, so you could as well wait for it”.

Either way it’s pretty stupid.

Timecrimes isn’t stupid though. I recommend it to anyone who shares my view that the time-paradox episodes of Star Trek are the best ones (next to the Borg, of course).

Timecrimes (Los cronocrímenes, Nacho Vigalondo, ES, 2008) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Timecrimes