Monday, April 29, 2013

Review of "Love and Other Drugs"

A romcom with degenerative diseases. Jake Gyllenhaal is a smart young man from a good family but he's working in sales because...something about not wanting to give his doctor father the satisfaction he would get from Jake finishing med school. So his start-up millionaire geek brother gets him a job as a medical rep, where he meets early-stage Parkinson's sufferer Anne Hathaway. They engage in the kind of verbal sparring that always means they are about to have sex in this sort of film, and then they have sex. Very energetic, young-people sex. Anne Hathaway's condition is very mild (her hand twitches a bit every so often) but it hangs over them.

He works for Pfizer, so soon he's pushing Viagra rather than Zoloft, and becomes much in demand. Cue some stiffy jokes, and an orgy scene. Then it all gets serious when he realises he really really loves her, and she doesn't want him to take on a future in which she will degenerate...and on to the resolution, which there's no need for me to spoil. Not quite your usual romcom - slightly more gravitas, but still plenty of dick and wanking jokes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review of 'Lay the Favourite'

Oddly shapeless film about a naive young woman from Florida moving to Las Vegas and working as an assistant to a professional gambler. Sympathetic depictions of the 'gambling industry', Bruce Willis as the professional with a heart of gold, Catherine Zeta Jones as his face-lifted trophy wife...with a heart of gold...

The final credits say that the naive young woman eventually goes to college and becomes a writer. The film is based on her memoir of her gambling days, so I suppose it is in some sense a true story. It certainly has the shapelessness of truth - not a strong plot line, not much suspense, not very interesting or well rounded characters. A bit like life, then. But not compelling to watch.

Review of 'Otelo Burning'

An independent film about young Black surfers in Durban as apartheid draws to a close. Very understated, the sort of thing that gets described as a 'coming of age' movie, but with a background of violence in the townships.

A few observations. One, Inkhatha; I had almost completely forgotten that Inkatha had ever existed. Then, we were told that the struggle between the ANC and Inkatha was an ethnic one. But in the absence of apartheid, Inkatha just melted away because it no longer had any purpose. Interesting to remember this, and one wonders how many other apparently grass-roots movements will turn out to be constructions in the same way. Surprised to discover it still exists; certainly the UK media has lost all interest.

Two, the depictions of apartheid in the film; to say the least, subtle. Apart from one sign on the beach there is no sign of any 'petty apartheid'. The white people in the surfing competition fraternity don't seem particularly surprised to see a Black competitor. The people in the township have almost no connection with the wider world of South Africa - no work, nothing. Maybe that's realistic - a Hollywood film would have emphasized the racist attitudes and the discrimination.

Review of 'The Black Dahlia"

Stylish retro-noir feel, plot that can only be understood by careful reconstruction (and even then I am not completely convinced that it makes sense). Of course, the incomprehensibility of the plot may have something to do with the fact that I dozed off several times. I don't think that's necessarily a reflection on the film, but...

Rather over-stylized - if  there were LA lesbian bars in the 1940s, can they really have had such big Busby Berkeley style cabarets?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Review of Glorious 39

Great conspiracy thriller set in Britain in 1939. Some great acting and lovely camerawork/editing. Nice to see some familiar faces cast against type - Bill Nighy and Jeremy Northam, Eddy Romayne as baddies. Great also that the upper class baddies are appeasers, not Communist sympathisers as usually seems to happen in drama set in this era. Really captures the spirit of officious English bureaucracy well too - the checkpoint with the Military Police, the slaughter of pets (did that really happen?).