I watched Guardians of the Galaxy again on Saturday night. We started watching something called Life of Crime, starring Tim Robbins as an arrogant, wealthy drunk whose wife (Jennifer Aniston) is kidnapped by Mos Def and John Hawkes, but he doesn’t want to pay the ransom because he was going to divorce her anyway. Sounds mildly interesting, with a bunch of actors I enjoy – Will Forte, Isla Fisher, Kevin Corrigan and Mark Boone Junior are all in there somewhere too – but 10 minutes in Aisha and I were already bored and checking our respective phones, plus a 5.8/10 on IMDb didn’t bode well, so we bailed and watched Guardians. When I saw it in the theatre last year I loved it. At that point it was one of the best films I’d seen all year, and I raved about it on the Lambcast episode dedicated to it. It was quickly added to my prospective Christmas list, and I was overjoyed to find the Blu-Ray under the tree. I was hard pressed to find anyone with many problems with it, and couldn’t wait to see it again. Then I watched it my partner and her parents. They were all relatively lukewarm on the experience, and I found myself in a similar situation as I had the year before. When I saw Pacific Rim in the cinema back in 2013, I left proclaiming it to be my new favourite film (As an exaggeration, in truth no film can be thought that highly of until I’ve seen it at least twice, with the viewings being at least 9 months apart from one another. Yes, I’ve dictated myself a set of rules through which I allow myself to enjoy things. And yes, I know how absurd that is.). I subsequently got Pacific Rim for Christmas, watched it with my partner and her family, they all hated it, I suddenly didn’t like it much any more, and haven’t gone back since. My second viewing of Guardians brought me down not to the same level of dismissal as the potential in-laws, but somewhat closer than I had been.
It was my partner’s idea to watch it again this past weekend, and I didn’t hesitate because I still remember that first viewing, and I hoped her opinions would improve second time around. They did, she rather enjoyed it, but alas I did not. There was something missing, some spark of creativity and innovation that had dissolved and withered away since that first viewing. I found myself watching this vastly entertaining blockbuster, previously lauded by myself for its witty script, its deft handling and shaping of unknown characters, its ability to introduce a frankly ridiculous amount of new locations, people, items and mythology without feeling overstuffed or confused, and this time around I was bored. The jokes fell flat. The plot was dreary. Even the soundtrack had lost its appeal. Something has happened in my mind that seems to prevent me from enjoying something I loved in the past. And now I’m stuck with a quandary. Do I give it a few months – maybe even a year or so – and watch it again, in the hope that I’ll rediscover what I once saw? Or in doing so will I continue the ever-steepening downward slope of my appreciation for the film, evolving from outright love, through emphatic enjoyment and now sitting in disappointed mundanity? Will a fourth viewing make me actively dislike it? Help!
What We Do In the Shadows (2014)
Sometimes I think there’s no new ideas out there in the world, particularly movie-related, and we’ll never see something that feels truly original again. And then I watch stuff like What We Do In the Shadows, and my faith in cinema is boosted. Written by, directed by and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, it’s a found footage comedy (stay with me) about four vampires living together in New Zealand, and the everyday dilemmas they encounter. Genius. From arguing over the housework rota, to laying down newspaper before killing someone in the living room, I loved how this took apart the mythology of vampires and reconstructed it in modern, realistic times. And then threw werewolves at it. Technically I can’t count this as a 2015 release as it was released in the UK in November 2014, although nowhere near me, but despite not being on any of my lists or adding anything towards my goals for the year, I’m still very pleased I saw it. Easily the best film I saw this week.
Choose Film 9/10
Love, Rosie (2014)
This is what happens when I let Aisha pick movies. Love, Rosie. Love Fucking Rosie. Ugh. Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) play best friends Rosie and Alex, who have been each other’s besty since playschool. They’re clearly perfect for one another, clearly going to end up together, yet first we must endure 90 minutes of depression and frustration at the near misses and close calls. Initially they’re both drawn as kind-of outcasts from their social groups, despite both being the object of affection for the hottest, most popular boy and girl in their year (Christian Cooke and Suki Waterhouse).Rosie and Alex both plan to move to Boston (from England) together to study, but Rosie discovers her brief and less-than-ideal traditional prom night whoopie session has left her pregnant, so Alex – who doesn’t know about the bun in her oven – goes without her and has the time of his life whilst she stays living with her parents, being a single mum and working as a cleaner for the hotel she always planned on eventually owning. It’s all depressing as shit. At one point Rosie’s fiesty best friend Ruby (Jaime Winstone) says something along the liens of “Whenever I feel bad about my life, I just think about you [Rosie] and feel better, because everything that happens to you is a never-ending spiral of torment and despair.” It’s very true, and were it said with the least bit of irony or satire then I’d be inclined to forgive the film a little, but it’s not. In fact, there’s precious little comedy to be found throughout. This is not a rom-com, it’s a rom-tragedy that looks like a rom-com, which is maybe the worst kind of film imaginable, as you go in thinking there might be some elements of humour to cling onto, and end up drowning in sorrow. Even the trite, mile-away ending feels unearned, relying upon a character who has been nothing but a vindictive, spiteful shit all the way through suddenly having an off-screen change of heart. The only saving grace was Sam Claflin. He reminds me a little of a young Tom Cruise, mainly due to that insanely charming grin he can flick on like a torch. He’s one of the few elements of the Hunger Games movies I enjoy, and I look forward to seeing what else he does in the future.
Choose Life 3/10
The Phenix City Story (1955)
The Alabama stop on my USA Road Trip for French Toast Sunday. I knew nothing going in, but was gripped from the beginning of this true story looking at the assassination of the attorney general in Phenix City, Alabama in 1954. Also, it starred Richard Kiley, a name I’d known for years as voicing the computers in the Jurassic Park jeeps, but had never been able to put a face to.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, FTS USA Road Trip
Full Review here.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
In case you skipped it, that whole opening paragraph was about Guardians. Go back and read it, then pop back down here. OK? Good. I don’t know what happened. I’m pretty sure the film is the same as it was, which could well be the problem. I think I loved it that first time around because it was so new and different to everything else out at the cinema at the time. Nothing else was this fresh and downright fun. Now, I know what’s coming. The highlights have permeated pop culture and are impossible to forget. And so it was in this viewing I found myself appreciating some of the aspects I’d ignored those first two times around. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, for instance, is a much more integral part of the group than I’d first thought, and she’s actually pretty damn good in it too, with some subtler comedic moments overshadowed by the more quotable or visual antics by the rest of the group. That all being said, I still found myself really disappointed with my lack of enjoyment this time around. Who knows if I’ll ever watch it again?
Choose Life 6/10
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)
Mrs Henderson (Dame Judi Dench) has just lost her husband, leaving her a wealthy widow with nothing to do other than call everything “Delicious!” in 1930s London, so she buys a theatre, hires a director (Bob Hoskins in full on irascible mode) and puts on a show. And the show in question just so happens to feature nude women, which had been all the rage across Europe, but with England had yet to see. However, the only way they could get the shows approved by the Lord Chamberlain (Christopher Guest! What’s he doing here?) is to have the nude women remain immobile throughout the performance, so they must stand statue-like on stage, with singers and dancers performing around them. Nowadays it’s a very odd notion, but back the audiences ate it up. The film is fine, nothing special but not terrible either, it just suffers from a wayward tone, starting off light and comedic, with some musical performances thrown in by Pop Idol winner and fortunately only one-time actor Will Young, but once war breaks out the tone takes an understandably downward tone, although occasionally makes the whole World War 2 Blitz affair seem like one jolly old sleepover. I miss Bob Hoskins, he wall always such an enjoyably grumpy man, and I could have gone my entire life a happy creature without having seen his penis, but I guess that’s a bell I can’t unring.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Life 6/10
Ending the week on a high note is always a good idea, I find. I’d never seen much of Michael Keaton’s comedic work, and now I know I need to track more of it down, because he is phenomenal here. He plays a guy rushed off his feet through work and family commitments, who is offered the opportunity to clone himself and gain more time in the process. Shenanigans and hilarity ensue, all of which is fairly predictable, but is endlessly fun because of Keaton. He manages to imbue all the clones (eventually four in total) with a different personality, tone of voice, mannerisms etc, yet retains them all as being derived from the same original person. One is a bit bawdy, another more fastidious and fussy, one is just plain dumb, and they’re all tremendous fun to watch. There’s a lot of cinematic trickery and showing off involved – one Keaton fills another’s drink, which is drunk without cutting away or moving the glass, two Keatons chest bump, there’s a whole heap of conversations just between Keatons – and I think if released today, Keaton’s performance(s) definitely would have garnered him at least consideration for an Oscar nomination. I need to track down some more of his work, any recommendations? Oh, and I’d have liked this film a whole lot better if literally anyone else had been cast in the role of his wife. Andie MacDowell does nothing but ruin movies, and I’d quite like her to stop now, please.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Film 8/10
Posts you may have missed:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
USA Road Trip: Alabama: The Phenix City Story
FTS in the Movies Round 21: I got the difficulty all wrong again, as all the points are still available on this week’s game. Go and have a guess, just for the fun of it, regardless of how wrong it might be.
Lambcast #271: Mad Max Franchise: I was joined by Robert, Clint, Nick and Matt to discuss all four Mad Max movies. It’s an interesting franchise in terms of quality and coherence, but we all pretty much agreed that at least parts 2 and 4 are essential, and the others have their own qualities to them too.
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
To go: 25
Should be on: 26
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
To go: 47
Should be on: 15
On Track: No!
Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
To go: 2
Should be on: 1
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
To go: 7
Should be on: 5
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
To go: 33
Should be on: 22
On Track: No!
Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
To go: 42
Should be on: 32
On Track: Yes!