Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Final Film Review of 2012 (from me)

Well folks - I have only actually seen two more films since my last posting.  Our local arts cinema has remained tempting, but we've not really been drawn to anything much - so today I'm going to review the two films I have seen and also offer my thoughts on why I'm really not sure about seeing a third...

#1: Hysteria
As I've mentioned before on this blog our nearest cinema is a small affair that competes with the multiplexes via showing what I refer to as FROMAGE films (French ROad Movies About the Grimness of Existence) - by offering something different it succeeds in regularly filling its seats and gives you an alternative to Hollywood blockbusters, although it increasingly shows more of those as well...

And this year we had a two-for-the-price-of-one ticket that could be used once per month, hence we went to see a couple of films that we would otherwise not have seen.

And a couple of months back now we had to decide between a proper FROMAGE film (complete with subtitles) and the above mentioned effort.  In the end Herself was not feeling up to subtitles and as I wasn't really too fussed we chose Hysteria..on reflection it was not a good choice.

So the plot follows a fictionalized version of the events that led Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) to invent the first vibrator, dealing with the treatment of Hyseria - a malady attributed to women for almost any disease or ailment for many years - treatment of which was to induce an orgasm manually, thus reducing tension (believe it or not many of the Doctors did not realise the "treatment" was pleasurable for the women) - but in some cases could effectively lead to women being institutionalized and "spayed"

As a sub-plot to this it also deals with Dr Granville's relationship with Charlotte Dalrymple (Maggie Gyllenhall), the daughter of the Doctor whose practice he works for - Charlotte is a staunch feminist who believes in women's rights at any lengths and actively defies her father in supporting the education and treatment of the poor.

The film goes wrong on several levels really: firstly by trying to treat a very serious point (about the maltreatment of some women) in a film whose tone is largely of a rom-com.  This means that opportunities to develop the idea of feminism and of the victorian attitude towards the poor and women are overlooked in favour of opportunities to laugh at revolving feather dusters.

Add to this that the main character is just too wet and...well, a french film about a millionaire in a wheelchair and his helper from the slums suddenly looks like the obvious cinematic choice - subtitles or no.

#2: Skyfall
I'm trying to think back here to the ancient past and define exactly when the last time was that I didn't go to see a new James Bond film at the cinema.

At the very least I saw For Your Eyes Only and everything since that - but I'm sure I must have seen Moonraker and even have a shaky memory that I might have seen Diamonds Are Forever at a matinee - but probably not on its initial release

Which makes going to see a new Bond film on the big screen A Tradition - and we all know that you have to uphold and continue traditions, even after the gobsmackingly awful Tomorrow Never Dies and Quantum Of Can Anyone Explain What Just Happened (also known as Quantum Of Solace)

Daniel Craig has had a mixed career so far as Bond - Casino Royale was a good back-to-basics, cashing in on the Jason Bourne films extravaganza but was arguably 30 minutes too long, but Quantum Of Solace was 2hrs of excrement thrown at the cinema screen by a hoarde of monkeys who had abandoned their typewriters (if anyone knows what Quantum were up to or what that film was actually in aid of please do feel free to tell me)

So Skyfall - and here I have to say that there were clearly those in the audience who were not enthralled as they were constantly checking their text messages during the film (either that or we have lost any attempt at an attention span) and who walked out saying how dull the effort was.

Essentially the plot revolves around a set of documents that are stolen containing lists of agents, for which M gets the blame - and a rogue agent with a grudge to settle.

It starts well and sets a good pace throughout, with Craig delivering a believable Bond and sparring nicely with Judi Dench as M.  However as the film carries on it seems to lose a little of that early energy and in an attempt to reflect the changing world that Bond finds himself in it settles for a much more downbeat finale than any Bond before

Still - on the whole, and despite a way-too camp performance from the villain, I thought it was a good return to the form of Casino Royale and continue to feel that Craig is the best Bond for a long while (Connery will always be THE best - let's just be clear on that)

#3: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
So I said at the start that I haven't seen this, and that I'm in two minds as to whether I want to or not.  Here are my reasons - if you have seen it and can think of better ones to go then please do give me a review by reply:
1: It's in 3-D. 
I object to 3-D on several grounds, mainly that it has been forced upon us by the industry largely because it makes copyright theft in cinemas harder, you have to wear those stupidy glasses (although maybe not for much longer), that films already manage to give you the impression of 3-D without stupidy glasses and, most importantly, a bad film in 3-D is no better for it, it's just a bad film in 3-D.

Can I also add on the subject of 3-D that it encourages directors to put in lots of scenes that are purely there so the audience can go "Wow, 3-D" (see "Avatar") - telling an interesting story would be better as far as i'm concerned

2) Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. 
Loved him in The Office as Tim - but his everyman/permanent look of surprise thing would no doubt be very wearing after the first 90 minutes

3) It's three hours long. 
90-120 minutes is all that is required in 98% of films - good three hour films that don't drag are extremely rare

4) Not only is it three hours long, but they have made 3x 3hr films
The Hobbit is a much smaller and more lightweight source than The Lord Of The Rings - which means if i go and watch this 3 hour film i will have to go and see two more.  The words "self" and "indulgent" spring to mind. Two films might even have been too much, but adding a third so that they can bring to life the Appendicies of Lord Of The Rings well... have you ever read the Appendicies?  I know I haven't


The Bug said...

I liked Casino Royale - & really as long as I can gaze upon Mr. Craig it really doesn't matter (which must be why, although I recall kind of liking Quantum, I don't really remember anything about it - ha!).

We never go to the movies, but I think we're going to actually go to the theater to watch Le Mis!

pohanginapete said...

I'm apprehensive about The Hobbit. I'm sure it'll be a great spectacle, but given the penchant of Peter Jackson and his co-writers to stuff about with classic material — they were going to change to storyline of LOTR until the fans got word and were sufficiently outraged (and even then, Jackson et al. couldn't resist adding their own material) — now, where was I? Oh yes, I'm apprehensive. I expect the film to be loosely based on the book but with so much self indulgence (as you aptly predict) that I'll have to force myself to see it as a spin-off rather than the real thing.

The Bug said...

P.S. I forgot to mention - I would LOVE to do an exchange :) Although it's hardly fair because I might have about 2-3 hours of work (at most) in a hat & I'm sure that you spend a great deal more time on a painting. So, really, I don't mind just sending a hat without any swapping.

I'm going to work on one for Mike at some point - let's see what that looks like & what you think. Unless it's for the Mrs. in which case let me know what colors & I can whip that up pretty quickly.

PhilipH said...

We've not set foot in a cinema for 25 years or more. Just hate the way cinemas 'work' nowadays. Mobile phones, popcorn, crackling sweetie bags and suchlike put me off and keep me off.
I used to love going to a small cinema in South Croydon many decades ago; The Classic. It was an independent concern that did not have the usual 'new film releases' and it was always well attended.
I have a few films that I will always watch when they are shown on the telly:
1. The Third Man - really great.
2. Wizard of Oz - fabulous.
3. Scrooge, with Alastair Sim B/W.
4. The Man Between (James Mason)
5. Halfway House, Mervyn Johns 1944
6. Any Tarzan films as long as it stars Johnny Weismuller!

Modern productions are far too 'colourful' and overdone for me. So-called 'action films' are so 'samey' as to be boring.

3-d films! No thanks. Saw these some 50 years or so ago and didn't reckon them then! House of Wax was one such film, I think, and it was poor.
Oh well, we all have our different tastes; the old ones suit me!

Stephen Hayes said...

I've seen Skyfall and thought it very mediocre. The plot just wasn't exciting enough to keep me engaged.

PhilipH said...

PS: When I was a kid I thought ALL Tarzan films were real!
I yearned to live with Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheetah in their fantabulous tree house.
It WAS all real, wasn't it? ;-}

Titus said...

I loved the House of Wax! These days, 3-D just gives me a headache, and mostly it's just like a pop-out book with one layer of image on top of another. The genius cinematographers of yore seemed to achieve a far more 3-D effect through the proper use of light. She said sniffily.

I haven't seen Craig as Bond yet! And yes, Connery is Bond, but I really enjoyed Mr. Moore in Live and Let Die, which is the last Bond film I saw at the cinema when it was released.

Hobbit? Not bothered. No Viggo.

And what has happened to really, really good films. Where are they? I'm hoping to get to The Master to see if it's all it's cracked up to be.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - i don't generally like musicals, but Le Mis is the exception and I'm intrigued by the idea that they had everyone sing live when filming, rather than pre-record the vocals, so will be taking Herself to see that. Will also make contact about hats and pictures - my paintings usually take 2-3 evenings, but i don't regard them as work

Pete - I heard a rumour that Jackson had thought about including bits of The Silmarilion - but didn't purely because they didn't have the rights on the book, which i guess saved us from a fourth film

Philip - the artshouse cinema showed Scrooge recently with Alastair Sim and I was very tempted. I agree on the issue of mobile phones and was rather depressed that people couldn't leave them alone for the duration. And yes, Johnny Weismuller was great - i loved the fact that the kid was just called Boy

Titus - Live And Let Die is one of my favourite Bond films and is certainly one of Moore's best (they got too jokey towards the end)

Really, really good films are still out there - and some of them are in the art house cinemas made in other countries. I definately recommend trying a non mainstream movie because at the very least they look and feel different to the popcorn production ones of
Stephen - it does seem to have divided optinion. Perhaps in the wake of Quantum anything would have looked good to me

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the problem with "Quantum of Solace" was. A lot of people said that they didn't like it, but I thought it was good. I thought "Skyfall" was pretty good as well, although I some what agree with you about the camp performance from Javier Bardem. I only go as far back as Pierce Brosnan's Bond, and of those, the earliest one I remember is the one with Michelle Yeoh.

I haven't fully decided on whether or not to see "The Hobbit", only because that series has already been milked, much like "Star Wars", which Disney has picked up and decided to start making again. However, I am glad that they didn't let Guillermo Del Toro ("Hellboy", "Pan's Labyrinth", "Hellboy 2",) make "The Hobbit", as I think he is awful.

Anonymous said...

Actually, that's not true. I also seen "Goldeneye". I don't remember what I thought of it.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samurai - mainly my problem with Quantum is that i have no idea what they were trying to achieve - there was lots of running around, a big secret organization, some vague mutterings about water and then a hotel went foom!

Mind you, continuity wise i have a problem with Skyfall, because just two films ago they rebooted the bond series with him getting his 00 prefix - and all of a sudden they're talking about him as if he's been around forever.