Category: Film

The Devil Wears Prada

Anne Hathaway looks pretty for just under two hours while Meryl Streep plays a bitch with rare patches of vulnerability for roughly the same amount of time. Everyone else except for the gay man is a two dimensional person brought onto the screen to say their lines and advance the story.

From the hit literary genre “complain about your former employers”, previous home of The Nanny Diaries (soon to be a film starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular nanny), comes The Devil Wears Prada. It’s pleasant if undemanding and displays a lack of finesse in its morality. Remember, folks: working is good, being a nice person is bad. You can’t dedicate yourself to your job without being a bitch. Know this and know this well!

Children of Men

There are several kinds of dystopian stories, and many of them deal with a world where Britain is one of the sole superpowers. You can take them as a gradual build up of making a bad situation worse, as in V for Vendetta, or the situation has already reached the zenith of terribleness and the characters have to struggle to survive with a definite sense of immediacy.

Children of Men is an example of the immediate school of dystopia: quick, bleak, grey and terrible.


Spy movies are enjoyable because they frequently dispense with logic in order to provide their thrills. Stormbreaker, based on an allegedly popular series of childrens’ books (I can be forgiven for not keeping up to date with the childrens’ literature), is designed specifically to be a sort of James Bond for children, right down to MI6.

Yet, with an M rating, not all children will be allowed to see Stormbreaker. Sure, maybe the tweens and teens will, but none of the children of overprotective parents. To that end, I chose to go in their stead.

What we have in Stormbreaker is a spy story that features a villain with a feasible plan that is well executed, but the worst motive for super villainy ever. It’s not rocket science and, at several points, it is nothing more than an advertisement for Nintendo, but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable.

Trailers: Threat Level Beta

At An Inconvenient Truth last night, I was subjected to some more trailers that I wasn’t quite expecting, from movies I had only heard of in passing.

The first was The Holiday (YouTube trailer), which I had thought was a book before it was a movie. Apparently not. Anyway, it’s a romantic comedy about switching Britain for America and vice versa, with Cameron Diaz saying “England is so quaint! Look at its old world appeal!” (carefully ignoring the tackiness of modern English culture) and Kate Winslet saying “America is so … American!” (I don’t know how to characterise America in this film).
Cameron Diaz meets Jude Law, and Kate Winslet meets … Jack Black? Jack Black is my hero, so if I can get the requisite girls in line, I might go and see this movie.
As a general rule, you can tell the calibre of film that Black is in by the state of his facial hair.

The other, more eyecatching, and possibly more noteworthy film, was Marie Antoinette:

Bubblegum pink titles? Contemporary music? People speaking with their “natural accents”? This is what we call “post modernism” or similar. I have an interest in the French Revolution fuelled largely by the anime Rose of Versailles, which is a wildly romantic and fairly balanced account of the times of France from Marie Antoinette’s rise to her fall. It was the sort of thing that I could keep people constantly updated on as I came up with new examples of decadence.

Marie Antoinette is, by many (positive) accounts, more of a trifle; A fluffy confection of a film that revises Marie Antoinette’s image. I like the idea that she felt the whole of Versailles was silly, because it was, but the problem in my mind is that in time she came to believe in the silliness and drove France into a ditch of famine, poverty, and, eventually, cycles of bloodshed.

I won’t mind seeing a sympathetic Marie Antoinette, as the Antoinette of Rose of Versailles travelled between extremes of shrewishness and tears. I suppose it may be just like Doctor Who or James Bond: the actor you saw first is the character. Which incarnation of Antoinette will be the one that sticks?
Considering the different tones taken by these films, I may be able to accept both accounts on their own merits. Whatever the case, I’m intrigued: the trailer has done its work.

Post script, ironically written before I finished writing the rest:
Damnit, I just read what Roger Ebert had to say about the film’s reception about Cannes and now I know how it ends. Sure, I know this history reasonably well, but you can never know when a historical recount ends until it stops being told. That article is interesting until the last paragraph, so don’t feel bad about reading it.
It’s also notable that Ebert got the same impression based on a hypothetical that I did from the ending of Rose of Versailles.

An Inconvenient Truth

“Oh no!” they cry, “He’s gone and seen a Leftocrat bleeding heart liberal movie! Run for the hills!”

Nothing says “prevent global warning” like “cartoon violence”.

Feel free to run. If you don’t like Al Gore, you’re probably not going to like this movie. I’d like to think that global warming is not really a political issue for the most part, but as this is part biopic that serves to show precisely why Gore does what he does, it does delve slightly into his own campaigns over the years.

Personally, I agree with that which Gore sets out here: we have a problem. I really need to see South Park‘s “ManBearPig” to get another view on the matter (despite the fact that I think the evidence is fairly well … incontrovertible) because there’s no way in heck “Al Gore’s Penguin Army” is anything approaching worthwhile. Even if I had something against Gore, the “Penguin Army” clip would still be crap.

An Inconvenient Truth is an almost bleak but more hopeful than expected examination of the world at large. Despite the fact that Australia deserves its place on the shame list for being one of only two developed countries to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, this documentary should not be ignored. Unless you really want to, you know, drown. Or you want me to guilt you about your grandchildren’s futures. I can do that.

Please Note: This topic has the capability to be somewhat inflammatory, so if you disagree with this post please just walk away.

Little Miss Sunshine

The title “Little Miss Sunshine” appearing across the face of the suicidally depressed Steve Carell is proof that irony lives.
Another installment in the great tradition of American road movies, Little Miss Sunshine is one of those “melanchomedies”* that uplifts as it saddens.

Super Size Me

Super Size Me was a huge sensation upon its release a couple of years back, yet I never saw it. The movie Fast Food Nation was made on the strength of its success, ironic for the fact that Supersize Me itself was at least partially inspired by the Fast Food Nation book.

This is how you make a film about this topic: you make it interesting. It doesn’t have to necessarily be entertaining – although Super Size Me most definitely is that – but it certainly should not be dull and leaden. Even if you claim that that is “real”, it is not real in the sense of cinema, which demands something.

I thought that it was strange that Channel Ten showed this program after Australian Idol, which is sponsored by McDonald’s. In response to Fast Food Nation, McDonald’s has released a Make Up Your Own Mind ad campaign.
Those wiley McDonald’s fiends have chosen to exercise that campaign during this movie. One of the wisest things that Richard Linklater said when I saw him on Thursday was that McDonald’s would have been wisest not to have brought out a retaliatory campaign at all (although they claim it’s just coincidental).

They needn’t have worried, of course: Super Size Me had the natural appeal that would allow people to actively seek it out. McDonald’s is going to positively pump money into Fast Food Nation, though, and we all know that money could be spent on something far more effective, like bringing the 30 cent cones back to 30 cents.

Popcorn Taxi: Fast Food Nation

Popcorn Taxi is an organisation in Australia that presents advance screenings of films, frequently with the films’ directors on hand afterwards to answer questions and give interviews.

Popcorn Taxi programmes that I have attended include Mysterious Skin (painful but phenomenal), Thank You For Smoking (hilarious and, coupled with Jason Reitman’s short films, an all around excellent evening) and Monster House (the interview providing genuine insight into the film that had me appreciating it ever more).

Generally, you get the impression that the people present have enjoyed the film they’ve seen. Fast Food Nation did not supply me with that feeling. I got the impression that quite a few people were disgruntled.

I didn’t think it was that hot, either.

CrabStorm: A Work in Progress

This post marks the launch of “ideas”, which covers great creations that may never come to fruition.

My initial notes began:

Best idea ever for a horror movie or video game: something involving crabs. Possibly in a science lab: research ship.

I’ve since upgraded the idea to “action/thriller”, generally because I don’t like horror. I then came up with the following fragments of plot:

A scientist is drinking coffee at his computer and gets up to check a print out. He hears a scuttling sound behind him, but signs it off as his imagination. He returns to his desk and hears the sound again. He turns around, worried now. The sound continues, again behind him. The scientist turns back to his desk, but we see only his face. He screams as a shadow advances on him, and the screen fades to black as we hear the sound of frenzied snipping …

I liked the sound of crabs scuttling against a metal corridor/air duct, and therefore based a movie around it.

Our hero, we’ll call him Rob, at one point runs outside and looks over the railing, into the ocean: the ship is surrounded by crabs, using their claws to climb up the side, and a line of crabs making their way up the ship’s stairs …

Yes, just like zombies converging on a car or something.

…a confrontation scene in a giant, empty stock area of the ship, Rob and the captain standing against a wall, facing the crabs, Rob with a gun in his hands.
Captain says “Damnit, Rob! Shoot their weak point!”
“I’m trying,” says Rob, “but the bastards keep strafing!”

Strafing was my other idea.

…Deus ex Machina in the form of a previously thought dead heroine, Clare, emerging with a mighty crab hammer.

At this point I imagined that the film would descend into a series of Deus ex Machinas. I’d go see it, and I’m a member of the pro-crab lobby! I’m going to hope the crustaceans have just suffered a horrible misunderstanding.

Which gives me an idea for the true ending:

Spoilers for my non-existent movie’s ending ahead! You’ve been warned!

Snakes on a Plane

I was surprised that Snakes on a Plane fever continued up to a week after its release. Really, I was. Then it died away, as if the major excitement that had built up had never existed.

In my continued quest for topicality and relevance, I present to you my view of Snakes on a Plane.

Article contains 1 (one) expletive