What I Watched Last Week: 14/07/14 – Four Films in One!

Films, films, films. I completely forgot to do this weekly blog twice in a row. Not that it matters. The FIFA 2014 World Cup is over, the national camps and tourist resorts are rapidly emptying and all that’s left behind is crippling debt for Brazilian public sectors that could have done with the supposed $13bn it cost to host the ultimately humiliating tournament. I had a bet on Germany from the start – my first footballing bet ever. Accordingly, I received winnings amounting to a victorious £35.34. Now read my film reviews and despair.

 

The Hobbit (1977) – 4/5

Directors: Jules Bass, Artur Rankin Jr.

Cast: Orson Bean, John Huston, Richard Boone

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You know the story, but you probably never thought you could take it all in before Peter Jackson’s dwarves managed put away the dishes. Artur Rankin Jnr’s animated adventure is only seventy minutes long yet is able to cover the breadth of the Lord of the Rings prelude novel with fan pleasing faithfulness and accuracy. Every scene from the book is there – it might only be a twenty second song or a vividly sketched montage, but it’s there. The Hobbit’s naivety and good will charm are achingly attractive yet absurdly dated, and it’s definitely a far sight form the tone of the New Line Cinema productions – no bad thing.

Artur Rankin’s creative energy lends The Hobbit a unique place in Tolkien interpretation, his  uncouth animation style perfectly matching the unusual direction and zip of the film. Smaug and the spiders are two chilling highlights of the cartoon, as scary and impressive as your imagination would demand them to be, while the Mirkwood Elves are a gallophobic’s wet dream: a bunch of lecherous, spindly wine swillers with curved lips, superior airs and scraggly facial hair that all speak like Gerard Depardieu. As an accoutrement to the book it works very well, but like The Hobbit video game from 2003 it shouldn’t be used as an introduction to the world of Tolkien; then again, that could be a bit of a purist mentality, so if you don’t inwardly cringe when you hear Bilbo yelling ‘Oh my goodness!’ in an earnest American accent then you’ll enjoy it plenty.

 

The New World (2005) – 3/5

Director: Terrence Malick

Cast: Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Q‘orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Raoul Trujillo

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Avant-garde auteur Terrence Malick directs this historically accurate account of the life of Native American legend Pocahontas, starting with the arrival of English sailors on her people’s shores. For sixty minutes, The New World is a beautiful film of wondrous natural colour and life, emanating the uncontained spirit of Malick’s appreciation for all things living. There are frighteningly dynamic battle scenes (replicated by Mel Gibson for Apocalypto the next year. He also pinched some of the NA actors too) and savagery which sink your stomach and which Malick turns even more hectic through a choppy, anachronistic editing method that seems as much experiment as technique. Between Captain Smith (a brooding Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher, absolutely striking in her first major role) there ignites a dangerous and free flowing romance, as he is invited by the ‘naturals’ to engage in their culture and instruct them in his.

As soon as Christian Bale (who coincidentally starred in the Disney cartoon Pocahontas) turns up as Honty’s second English lover and eventual husband, the film takes a dip of such bludgeoning force that the previous hour is nearly forgotten. Immersive, sun-dappled cinematography intertwining humanity and nature is no more, instead replaced by the lengthily, po-faced kindling of a relationship leading nowhere but the grave. It’s arrowing stuff, and there’s no way to tepee-toe(tem) around it. Badlands is still Malick’s best film.

 

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) – 2/5

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Will Ferrell, Jason Mewes, Shannon Elizabeth

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 Planet of the Apes byplays; Will Ferrell hunting down a bonobo; Ben Affleck playing a guy who hates Ben Affleck before later on appearing as Ben Affleck;  fart jokes and dick jokes and drug jokes; Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill tarnishing their Star Wars hero status;  and lastly – who could do without them? – more fart and dick jokes and drug jokes.

Building upon the internationally successful ziggurat of Kevin Smith’s Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob – whose delicious communion began outside the Quickstop shop from the original – set off on their very own spinoff adventure. Not of their own will, though. Pissed off clerks Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O’ Halloran) one day decide to call the cops and move the pot dealing pair along, leading to the hazed out double act learning of a film called ‘Bluntman and Chronic ‘which is a Miramax funded adaptation of the same named popular comic book series which fictionalises Jay and Silent Bob’s antics. Upon this earth shattering discovery – which also leads the loquacious Jay and his mimetic friend Bob to finding the internet – they leave Jersey for the Valley of the Shadow of Debt a.k.a. Hollywood to either a) Collect the rights money owed them; or b) Stop the movie from happening and kick the asses of all involved.

Bluntly (geddit, blunt) breaking the fourth wall on a regular basis with all-inclusive gags like: ‘What fuckin idiots would go and see a film about you two fuckwits anyway?’…*all turn heads screen-ways and raise eyebrows in unison*. Being familiar with Austin Powers, Harold and Kumar, Cheech and Chong (referred to by name), American Pie (several stars of which appear here) and so on, Jay and Silent Bob brings nothing new to the ‘Bawdy/Drug-Related Vignettes’ movement, but it’s STILL a better movie than Clerks II.

 

Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) – 3/5

Director: Kin Finkleman

Cast: Peter Graves, William Shatner, Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Al White

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From the scrolling Star Wars non sequiter intro to the Hal 9000-clone-robot pilot and musical addendums, Airplane II: The Sequel is a reactionary pop culture comedy from start to finish, and much the inferior to the first film, in which Leslie Nielson was the sensational comedic sprocket. Still, Shatner and Peter Graves are solid and there are more laughs than any comedy film released in the past twenty years.

If one literal-twist on words doesn’t grab you then it’s always followed up with a pun or a genius sight gag before you can even process that there was a poor joke somewhere in the mix. A personal highlight is a furrow-browed priest studying a magazine titled Altar Boy, which he then delicately rotates length ways and raises his eyebrows at. It’s full of stuff like that, three or four laughs per minute, but the frequent use of cultural satire and flashbacks to the much funnier prequel as a narrative crutch dilute the fun. Self-referential sequels Hot Shots Part Deux and the later Naked Guns would also fall into this enervating trap. There’s nothing worse than the same people pointing at something they did and saying, ‘Though we have neither the will nor time to re-create something as original and funny, like us still because we once did something that was original and funny’. On that last note, the Monty Python reunion will hopefully be amazing and not depressing in any way! Get tickets to go see it broadcast live in a cinema – I have and I think that personally it’s going to be quite the eventful ev-*Large block reading ’200 TONS’ falls through the ceiling and flattens me*

 

 

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