12 Months of Movies 2006: July

I know that there were some weeks where I didn’t go to movies, so maybe the barrenness of mid July is true to life. Not a bad month, certainly.

Over the Hedge

July 4, 6:00, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 1)

I have an in-built cynicism when it comes to non-Pixar CG children’s films. Expecting something not great can often lead to expectations being exceeded, and this was thecase with Over the Hedge. Some of the jokes were repeated too often for my tastes (three mushroom clouds is two too many), but otherwise it was funny and possessed the sort of heart that is frequently either lacking or contrived in kids’ CG movies. Heck, tears even came to my eyes in one of Shatner’s scenes – and he was playing against Avril Lavigne!
Over the Hedge didn’t push the “humans are consumer automatons” too hard or cruelly: what it did, in the end, was entertain.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

July 7, 6:00, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 10)

It’s cheating to write this because I watched it on DVD again last night, but Dead Man’s Chest was excellent. It’s one of those movies that, narratively, is better on repeat viewing. As it stands, Dead Man’s Chest is a series of set pieces that show no signs of letting up in time for an adequate conclusion. Very close to the end, I was wondering how they could possibly resolve it, and then pow!, best ending ever. It’s one of those movies where the credits roll and I’m hit by a wave of elation, which was only bolstered by the appalled reactions of my comrades. It may be too long-winded for some, but Dead Man’s Chest is the sort of fun adventure that is rarely seen on screen nowadays.


July 21, 6:30, Dendy Opera Quays (Cinema 2) Ticket Missing

Good thing I remembered this one! Transamerica was hilarious, and proof that Felicity Huffman can act. Anyone who has seen Desperate Housewives could be forgiven for doubting her ability. A road movie in the finest tradition of road movies, but in this case the driver is a pre-op transgender woman escorting the son that she fathered in an “embarrassingly lesbian experience” in college across the country – without letting him know that she is his father.
It’s a situation that lends itself to an excellent blend of comedy and drama, and the confused sexuality within implies to me that I may have to see it again. Some of the plot developments were too obvious and contrived, such as the skinny dipping hippie, but the excruciating family scenes more than made up for that. This sort of thing is not to everyone’s taste, and I saw it with someone whose taste this most emphatically is not – but he loved it. Give it a try, but be warned: you get to see both Felicity Huffman’s penis and vagina during the course of the film.


July 25, 6:40, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 11)

This movie, about four men who find a dead body and ignore it so that they can enjoy a fishing weekend, was going well until director Ray Lawrence played the race card. This made me feel uneasy, because I didn’t even register the corpse as Aboriginal: I thought that ignoring a dead body, regardless of race, was bad enough. Jindabyne is also one of those Australian films that features international stars – in this case Laura Linney and Gabrielle Byrne – to bring in an audience. This created an altogether strange atmosphere, where the two main characters already seemed as outsiders in the town from which they further alienate themselves during the course of the story. Linney’s quest for reconciliation becomes far more unnatural as a result. In addition to this, the film has several strange storylines that don’t go anywhere.
It sounds like I didn’t like Jindabye, but I think that when you like the majority of a movie, its disappointments become all the more apparent.

16 Blocks

July 28, 6:30, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 18)

This movie was good precisely because it feels like it was made fifteen years too late. Mos Def and Bruce Willis team up as buddies with such urgency that they don’t have time for any of the normal bonding junk. The freeze frame ending – a cinematic technique that should have long ago been outlawed as part of one the arcane movie guild rules – is lame, but the lack of self-importance and the revival of something that barely gets made anymore makes 16 Blocks a worthwhile film.

Pick of July 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Movies this exhilarating are rare. Take them when you can. Actually, I only just remembered that Transamerica was this month and I’m tempted to give it to that, if only for the “Lord of the Rings is gay” argument, but I shall stand by my original judgement, and give Felicity Huffman’s excellent adventure an honourable mention.

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