August was a month where I made the pilgrimage to the end of Oxford Street not once, but twice! It therefore yielded some very fine movies indeed. It is around this point that I look at one of my very, very distant friends who has claimed that 2007 yielded less than six good films, and at my own experiences thus far, and at the more-than-one film critics (the one being Roger Ebert!) who have claimed that 2007 was a great year for film – and come to the conclusion that this friend of mine was talking out of his arse.
2007 rocked hardcore!
Saturday, August 4, 6:25, Greater Union George Street, Cinema 5
You know, it’s amazing that Judd Apatow is the new face of misogyny in cinema. You look at this and Superbad (more on that next month), and you get a different take on women to most movies. I don’t know, I don’t watch a lot of movies that are geared strictly towards the testosterone fuelled and their dates, but I think that something like Transformers is far more offensive than anything Judd Apatow has ever offered or will ever offer. Knocked Up, despite Katherine Heigl claiming that it portrays the male characters as fun-loving goofs and the women as shrews, actually battles misogyny by suggesting that maybe there should be depth in male to female relations and that people shouldn’t make snap judgements. But noooooo!
It’s sad that Katherine Heigl’s star is on the rise, because seriously, she’s way too outspoken. So too was the article complaining about the new misogyny in movies. Knocked Up shows a baby crowning. Yet it does not accompany this image with “horror movie sound effects” as I read. If you’re going to level an accusation a something, please don’t make it up! (I put in my DVD to verify this, and indeed the birthing scene contains no non-diegetic sounds).
So Knocked Up makes me angry. But it’s still a good movie.
Tuesday, August 7, 1:30, Hoyts Broadway, Cinema 6
I see Fracture as the soul-twin of Breach. Ryan Gosling is totally unrecognisable: if you didn’t know this was the same man as in Half Nelson, there’s no real way of knowing. Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter Lite and Rosamund Pike kind of hangs around, seeming too exotic for the All-American Family that they’ve placed her in.
It’s good for a low key film, and actually got a poster campaign in Australia despite having a three month delay to get here. Of course, a lot of the good stuff from the latter half of 2007 was held off for release until the Australian Summer, which is why December was such an excellent month. Fracture is not quite in that milieu, but it’s nothing to complain about. Although I was reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by the light of my phone during the ads and someone asked me to turn it off. It wasn’t even during the trailers, people! If I didn’t thrive on audiences, then really.
Tuesday, August 7, 4:10, Greater Union George Street, Cinema 9
Reed Richards finds God and decides that slavery must be abolished. Over many years, he marries Romola Garai, enlists Dumbledore, becomes very sick, and sees the British slave trade abolished. I thought the cast was great but that Amazing Grace was rather too straight forward. There’s not a lot of room for swashbuckling drama or much more than politics amongst the snooty nobility in Amazing Grace. It’s good enough, but it’s a bit dry.
Wednesday, August 22, 6:20, Palace Verona, Cinema 4
I made record time to see this movie, having to run all the way from Chinatown to the end of Oxford Street in less than twenty minutes. I was well rewarded, because this was a great movie, even despite being from Paul Verhoeven, Holland’s chief purveyor of American Filth. It’s a thriller (you know, I never really understood the definition of thriller. It is a hat that many entirely different movies can wear) about a Jewish woman who joins the Resistance in Nazi occupied Holland. It features a fair bit of nudity and far more excrement than one would ever expect from any sort of movie. I don’t really think that there is any coincidence that Sebastian Koch, so good as the writer in The Lives of Others, is present here as the “good” Nazi.
Black Book is long, but is well served by the fact that it doesn’t end with the end of World War II. It suggests quite well that there can be a sort of gracelessness in victory, and you can’t be guaranteed an easy out. Reading negative reviews of this film also emphasised that I only really like inquiring into the opinions of friends, or with the likes of Roger Ebert. It just blows my mind that some people can be so flagrantly wrong, and without remorse.
Die Hard 4.0
Friday, August 24, 6:30, Greater Union George Street, Cinema 5
You know what I had trouble grappling with in this movie? Bruce Willis making jokes about Asian prostitution about Maggie Q just to piss off Tim Olyphant. I found it hard to reconcile because I know he was doing it just to be a provocateur, but we’re supposed to be beyond this. I know that somewhere, I’m being labelled politically correct, but if that means curbing the flow of racism, homophobia and general discrimination, then I’m all for it.
Besides that, Die Hard 4.0 was a great bit of fun. Bruce kills a helicopter! Strangely, everyone in the movie plays Gears of War and it is essentially just another “we is nerds” movie, but for some reason it manages to transcend the frustration that I generally feel in relation to these stereotypes. Despite the lower classification, you still get to hear the line you know you came for … plus you get to see “truck versus stealth jet” at the same time. It’s all worthwhile even though these hackers can somehow hack just by typing onto a screen, no console or anything.
Sunday, August 26, 2:45, Greater Union Campbelltown, Cinema 3
What’s this? Why, it’s a Liz movie! Yes, you get to see the awfully pretty Catherine Zeta-Jones and the precocious, talented young Abigail Breslin caper through Raising Helen with some kitchen work. This is very standard issue indeed, and not bad for all of that, but it’s the sort of film that you really need a Liz to watch it with. If you don’t have a Liz, I don’t think that you can reallly apply. I hope Aaron Eckhart does more Thank You For Smokings than No Reservationses.
This Is England
Wednesday, August 29, 5:10, Palace Verona, Cinema 1
I’ve never been a big fan of skinheads. They seem rather unpleasant to me. Yet in watching This Is England you can understand how they can act as a family unit for the thoroughly disenfranchised. It’s remarkable in that you can see that for some skinheads, it really is just an aesthetic sometimes concerned with victimless crimes. Even those who have dangerous and overtly nationalistic ideas (and this is why patriotism scares me) have a sort of vulnerability to them, almost as if they can sense that on some level they’ve fucked up their lives and can’t get out of the hole they have dug for themselves.
This is all the more powerful for its basis in truth on the part of writer director Shane Meadows. It doesn’t offer easy answers, and I’ve only just realised that the ending would be enough to send some people apoplectic. I think that the preoccupation with symbols and idealised notions of what is “right” to the exclusion of all else is a large part of what is wrong with society today – and it was back then. This Is England is essentially worthwhile on every level.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Friday, August 31, 6:55, Greater Union George Street, Cinema 10
This month: barely remembered movie franchises! Yes, I’ve never been wedded to the Bourne continuum, but I quite enjoyed this. I do think it rather strange that every US government body has a couple of corrupt people out to destroy the world’s beacon of truth. Screen better, America! Also, Albert Finney was pretty groovy.
Pick of the Month: Black Book
I found this film thoroughly unpredictable, but it still planted the seeds of solution millions of years in the past. I didn’t like how it wasn’t a clean solution, but I understand that not all is fair in love, war, and the post-war depravity of gloating victors. This was a pretty good month, so that puts i>Black Book pretty dang high up in my estimation.