12 Months of Movies 2006: June

June and July: suspiciously light on ticket stubs. Is my diary lying to me? Will the internet reveal the hidden secrets? Only a quick search that I am presently too lazy to make will provide the answers!

June 2006: notable for the Sydney Film Festival, and one particularly excellent film.

The Holiday

When I went into The Holiday, I was not expecting a large amount of it to be a paean to the golden age of Hollywood. So, while I got largely what I was expecting – sweet romantic comedy which thinks it’s probably more meaningful than it really is – I got that little bit extra.

Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) decide that their lives suck, so they swap houses and continents. In Surrey, Amanda meets Graham (Jude Law), whose special ability is being just as verbose as she is. In L.A., Iris meets Arthur (Eli Wallach), who got into the movie business on the ground floor.
In these ways, their lives change profoundly.

The problem with this sort of movie is the balance given to each story, but I never really spent any of the film craving more time with Winslet or with Diaz. They were balanced fairly well, although they had very little to do with each other over the course of the film. Nancy Meyer did an excellent job of suggesting that they were both so far detached from their own lives that they could take up someone else’s with no troubles at all.
If anything, I demand more Jack Black! Demand him! Alas, Americans want to keep this great beast caged and unable to spread his wings. To them I say “fie”.

The Holiday is the sort of film for which word limits are imposed upon reviews: there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s a thoroughly pleasant way to spend two hours. Culture shock plays a mercifully small part of the story and all of the main actors put in more than adequate jobs to create a film that it would be petty to complain about.

Merry Blerghmas!

Never fear, kind reader(s)! The “12 Months of Movies” feature will conclude! I had originally planned to do one month a day from the 18th until the 30th, but things interfered. For instance, I am presently enjoying the same fierce cold that I suffered at this time last year.

I am still aiming to have the feature done for the 30th, and then I will present unto thee a special feature for the 31st before I kick off to my New Year’s Eve party (the plan is for me to belt out “Life on Mars” on Singstar Legends while I watch other people get drunk).
What is this special feature? It’s so special I haven’t even decided yet! It’s such a nebulous concept that it can’t be pegged down, and if you consult me in 2007 to ask “‘ere, where’s that 31st of December special feature you promised?” I will look you in the eye and call you a liar, sir!

Here’s hoping that Christmas treated you well. I was planning to write an exposé that accused Love Actually of both deriding and revelling in the tackiness of Christmas time, but when I rewatched it on Saturday night I just felt it in my fingers and in my toes. It simply didn’t matter any more.

’cause on Christmas, you can depend!

Babel Promo Blitz!

I saw a trailer for Babel today, when I saw Borat for a third time. Borat is funny, but Australians are philistines: all three times, I’m the only one who laughed at “well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
How can you not know that, Australia! You laugh at the following joke only because it involves mention of Hitler! To describe myself as “disappointed” doesn’t even cover it.

Anyway: Babel. This movie is a hard sell, but the trailer made an earnest effort of making it appear as if it focuses on the story of Richard and Sarah. The problem with this idea is that it has to pay lip service to the other three stories, and we have to wonder what relation they could possibly have (with the exception of the Moroccan story, of course; there’s little room for misinterpretation there).

It also commits the other duty of trailers in this modern age: explaining the title. (This is something that I wished The Pursuit of Happyness had done, because that title angers me something fierce). I think that the story of the tower of Babel is becoming increasingly obscure to people who … don’t play video games or watch anime.

Still, if I wasn’t me, who just goes into a cinema and says “amaze me” – shaking my fist in disappointment at the directors that fail me – then I don’t think I would want to see Babel.
The promo blitz appears to have started in earnest, though: this was obviously a new print of Borat, designed both to suggest that the little fake Kazakhi who could has staying power and that … people should go and see Babel; on the side of things that does not involve going to a film to learn about films, the Sydney Morning Herald published its review yesterday and the feature article of its Spectrum section today is on the film.

Even Dendy Opera Quays has taken hold. It appears that, in this day and age, Dendy is showing more “mainstream” independent films – the sort that will play on George Street. If you’re playing on George Street, I wouldn’t think that you would have to play at the Quays, but this is apparently not the case (also, Dendy Newtown is showing Borat! For shame! Put back on What the bleep do we know?! at once, blackguards!).
The lounge area downstairs at Opera Quays* now has an interesting montage of promo shots from Babel filling one of its walls. I’d almost go and see the movie there, if I hadn’t already been to George Street (also, George Street has better access to restaurants and what not; my enjoyment of Babel was greatly enhanced by the Korean BBQ that I enjoyed on Liverpool street afterwards**).

I’ve read, through vaguely incomplete sentences on Wikipedia, that Babel has been far from a financial smash. What do you expect of such a hard sell? I loved it, but I’ve warned all of my coworkers who hate subtitles to stay away – three quarters of the film is in “foreign”.

Natural biases against reading will prevent many from seeing Babel, but come on: Brad Pitt! Cate Blanchett! Gael Garcia Bernal! And, for some reason, Koji Yakusho as a saleable figure!
Just go see it, people! If there are any ads on TV promoting it, I’ll keep note. Movies that actually receive advertising where it counts are always going to be the ones that survive … maybe Babel is supposed to be a mixture of media and viral influence.

*I realise that the majority of my audience is a small group of Americans, and therefore my descriptions of places in Sydney are largely irrelevant. Read them and weep.
**Weep, I say!

12 Months of Movies 2006: April

According to my ticket diary, April was a pretty lacklustre month. It contained not just one of my favourite films of the year, but also one of my favourite films period. Yet it seemed so … underwhelming … by comparison to other, party, months.