Monday, 16 April 2012

Two Recent Movies I Have Seen (the sokiguess experience)

Well, in leiu of anything intelligent to say I thought that this week I would bring you a review of the two films I have seen recently at the cinema.

I should begin by saying that going to the movies is something of an unusual experience for me these days - the last film I saw prior to these, The Ghost, was nearly 12 months ago.

When I DO go I generally go to the local arts cinema rather than the multiplex.  Herein you can enjoy (or not) the wonders of world cinema - odd Bavarian animations where people are endlessly chased by buildings, French road movies about the grimness of existence and other little delights that, for whatever reason, passed the bigger screens by.

Sadly it seems that the cinema is showing much less of the French ROad Movies About the Grimness of Existence (surely there's a new genre there - FROMAGE films??) and much more of the mainstream - no doubt in some ludicrous attempt to start making a profit.

So what films did I see then?

#1: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Plot Summary (I will do my best not to give spoilers here, but look away now if you don't even want to know the basics)

A small group of elderly Brits all see an advert for a new retirement home in India and decide, for various reasons, to up sticks to a new country.

OK so when I saw the adverts for this film I really wasn't sure that I was going to enjoy it.  I got the impression from the clips that it was going to play on the old stereotypes of the Elderly (slightly racist) Brit Abroad and the Helpful But Slightly Backwards locals that often appear - and yes, there was a certain amount of that, but thankfully the film cleverly played on the perceptions of the characters and allowed them the experience to learn by their experience and allowing us to realize, along with them, just how wrong their initial ideas may have been.

True - you could argue that the cast seem to walk quite easily through their roles - but when you have a cast that includes Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie and Bill Nighy you don't expect to see the strings being pulled

On the plus side this is a beautifully shot film and makes much use of the sights and sounds of India - to the point where i was ready to pick my passport straight out of the drawer when i got home - and as far as feel good films go I can't remember the last time I came out of a cinema feeling so cheered up by a film

My one criticism then, would be the arrival of all the main characters at the same time, even on the same plane (don't worry - this happens so early in the film that it spoils nothing) - and i kinda felt it would have been better to have one or two people already there

#2: The Artist

Plot: A silent black and white film about the silent black and white era of film making, told via the relationship between a fading star of the silent era, and an upcoming one of the "talkies"

There are films that you come out of loving, or hating and those films that you come out of sokiguessing - IE shrugging one's shoulders and indifferently saying 'S OK I guess.

For me at least The Artist, despite all of its awards, was one of the latter.  It was all very nice, and quite enjoyable - but I came out of the cinema with no strong feelings either way.

The film was quite enjoyable, but I guess the problem is with a film like this that you either buy into the central conceit or you don't and when a film succeeds or fails largely on that idea - the idea to make a silent film when you could equally make one with sound - you either enjoy that idea or not.

For me I found that towards the end I was a bit tired of the silent movie approach and slightly frustrated when certain aspects of the film relied on reactions to things that had been said, but for which we had been given no word card.

Still, as an example of someone trying to do a bit of back to basics storytelling and film making, as opposed to just relying on spectacular 3D effects, even if that plot is more than reminiscent of Singin' In The Rain, it is definately worth a watch - just wait for it to come on telly and see it in the comfort of your own home.


The Bug said...

It think the last movie I saw in an actual theater was one of the Lord of the Rings movies - so that's been a while!

I think I'd like the first one. It reminds me a bit of a book I read recently (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson). It was set in England, but Major Pettigrew is enamoured of a store clerk of Pakistani descent. I had similar fears about it being a booka bout "these young people these days" - but it was really quite good!

Stephen Hayes said...

The first movie that you mentioned is one I definitely want to see, for all the reasons you mentioned. As for "The Artist," I've never been more bored by a movie and just don't see what the fuss was all about. I was extremely disappointed when it won Best Picture over Hugo.

pohanginapete said...

Synchronicity: I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with friends last night. We enjoyed it; we found it funny, with moments of poignancy, somewhat implausible (which doesn't matter most of the time), and occasionally with some terrific one-liners. But none of us felt it rose much above what you so aptly describe as sokiguess.

Perhaps oddly, for me the film didn't really capture the feel of India, and I'm not sure why.

Friko said...

The first recommendation: I'll certainly try to see it. Sounds like a film I'd enjoy. What a cast!

The Artist is on the list, but hasn't been got round to yet.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - they had to invent a new cinematic term after the Lord Of The Rings - Tolkien's Bum. That feeling that you get in the cinema after three hours and the film still hasn't bloody well ended!!

Stephen - i haven't seen Hugo, but would be interested to do so

Pete - Best Exotic certainly does go some ways down Implausibility Street. Having never been to India I don't know if it captured the real place - but it certainly looked a nice place to go

Friko - see both, but wait for the latter

And as to the two random people trying to sell me things - nice try, but it's the reject bin for you both

Medicine Sessions said...

haven't seen any of them! the last film I went to see was Avatar and it was such a novelty to go out for an evening that it was amazing!lol. I tend to wait until everything comes on the tv. Would love an arts/world cinema nearby... it's been good to come by and do some pixie reading by the way! Love your description of the British housewife 'buttering jammie dodgers'... hahahahahaa!

Anonymous said...

I hardly go to the movies anymore either, I usually just watch everything on Netflix. But I did see "The Avengers", which was excellent. I am interested in seeing "The Artist", to see what the hype is all about.