Category: Film

The Sentinel and 16 Blocks: Shooting things and not making sense

The Sentinel was a movie that has no real purpose in this world other than to show a bizarre president who has totally different motives to the one that the United States presently boasts. We only know this because the president has two lines of political dialogue, but it’s just enough time to express the leanings of the production crew.
The Sentinel simply stops making any sense after a time. I drifted into my thoughts for about thirty seconds and, when I came to, I found myself thinking “Why are they on a boat?” I could not, for the life of me, tell you.

16 Blocks, on the other hand, was a more interesting film that offered somewhat compelling characters and infinitely more sense. It was of the calibre of one of the better gritty early nineties cop films and applied itself to its genre clichés with relish enough to make it an enjoyable film despite its awful, awful Karate Kid style conclusion.

Yet The Sentinel is the bigger of these films. In Australia, 16 Blocks received essentially no advertising and disappeared without trace, while The Sentinel is still mystifying people with its mock thrilling storyline.

I think that the ultimate irony of these films is that Bruce Willis plays a “I’m too old for this shit” sort of role (the traditional ground of Richard Donner cop films), while Michael Douglas is allowed to shoot Canadians and sleep with Kim Basinger without prejudice.


I decided that, if I was going to see something that wasn’t going to be very good, I should balance it out by seeing something that would probably turn out okay. Kenny, a new Australian mockumentary by the Jacobson brothers, was just the movie to fill the gap.

Two Actors: Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon

Tonight my friends Maja and Rola dragged me along to see You, Me and Dupree, a movie whose trailers made it look like one of the single worst movies in human history. It wasn’t as bad as that – heck, it even mustered a couple of laughs! – but it got me to thinking about the style of the two featured actors. The rest of the movie is not worth writing about, so I won’t.


It’s ironic that, at the Sundance film festival this year, a film that was based on reappropriating film noir archetypes into a high school situation was awarded for “Originality of Vision”.
Brick is exactly like a stereotypical hardboiled detective story, except the detective is a student played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This does not make it bad by any stretch of the imagination, because the perfect sort of film noir in my imagination is exactly as atmospheric as Brick.

Cinema Etiquette

Normally you see a film in a cinema to revel in the atmosphere of the darkness, and an audience: you’re a coalition of the willing. I’ve seen Brick twice now, and the first instance boasted the kind of audience that you want: quiet and attentive. The second Brick did not go so well: I went on a Saturday night, not a normal movie night for me and, about fifteen minutes in, there came a gaggle of teenagers. They helped to make this film boast the actively worst audience ever; not just an annoying audience like that which had rendered the already interminable mess that was Wedding Crashers even more excruciating.
These teenagers came into the film and they talked. I hate coming late to a film, and Brick is one where you really can’t afford to miss the first minutes. They didn’t whisper quietly like one might do when trying to figure out what was going on.

For them, it was a cotillion. They came in and out of the cinema with alarming frequency, with some of them coming and going as many as three times. They chose to use the theatre as a reunion ground, standing up and stepping over each other so that they could hug and say something along the lines of “omigod how have you been omigod omigod” or some crap. I’m making up that dialogue, but it was probably as vapid as all of that.
As my friend Liz and I stepped out of the cinema, the culprits were standing around the stairs. One of them was heard to remark “That was a waste of time”. Yes it was, my friend, but the subject of our thoughts may have been different indeed. Don’t come to the most subterranean of George Street’s cinema screens for an extended social gathering. It’s not a good idea.

Now this may not have been as inappropriate as when I came out of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days and one of my friends chose to say “Heil Hitler!”, but it was still bad. I’ve generally got nothing against teenagers, having only left that era myself, but the vapid ones do no favours for the rest of them.

So, I ask that you remember the golden rules:

    Golden Rules of Movie Etiquette

  • Do not talk loudly during the movie, about things that have nothing to do with the movie.
  • Do not laugh at climactic moments of a film.
  • Turn your phone to silent. Some people will be more anal about this than I, but I think moderate use of SMS technology is acceptable during a film.
  • Do not stand up at any point in the movie to hug someone who has just entered the theatre, thus obscuring the view of anyone unfortunate enough to be in front of you.
  • Eat the meat of the carrot.
  • North for Pig Skin, South for Duck Skin.
    Movies at which it is appropriate to shout “Heil Hitler!” at the conclusion

  • Der Fuehrer’s Face (everyone of foreign race/will love der Fuehrer’s face/when we bring to the world dis-order!)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (if only because your face will melt and you’ll deserve it)
  • The Producers (I, for one, never knew that the Third Reich … meant Germany!)
  • Pretty much any Mel Brooks film, really.

Making a list is arbitrary and risks being dogmatic, but I’m not that fussed about it; almost all of those rules are just common sense.

At the cinema, listen to your heart and you’ll probably hear it telling you not to be a jerk and spoil the experience for your comrades in celluloid. They won’t thank you for it, but they also won’t get onto the internet to admonish you for it.