What I Watched Last Week – 22.09.14 – Ecstasy takes some Bill Murray. World Explodes.

Scotland stayed. I discovered rekt videos. There was the first week of university and lots of shouting, Here are the three films I managed to watch in between.

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (2011) – 1/5

Director: Rob Heydon

Cast: Adam Sinclair, Billy Boyd, Kristen Kreuk, Carlo Rota

Ecstasy

First up some topical analysis of Scottish moral fibre, courtesy of Rob Heydon’s abysmal 2011 adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s wave-making drugs novella Ecstasy. Not only does Heydon’s pish poor script completely skip over the first two chunks of Welsh’s book (which I just read this week to get in Scottish referendum mode), choosing to focus on the least controversial of the stories, he also wipes out the best characters in their swathes, replacing them with gangsterish auditionees that wouldn’t make the cut in a Guy Ritchie movie – not even Revolver! Billy Boyd (aka Meriadoc ‘Second Breakfast erry day’ Took from LOTR) has a major role as Woodsy, a DJ that gets wired until he gets sectioned, and as initially weird as it is to see the Scotsman outside of Middle Earth, he is the only cast member that approaches the warped realism of Irvine Welsh’s loonyverse.

Ecstasy2

With plentiful lines blagged from other Welsh classics such as Trainspotting and Filth, Ecstasy even stoops so low as to quote Pulp Fiction’s ‘Does he looks like a bitch?’ tirade in a scene so devoid of edge, humour and acting talent that one could be forgiven for thinking they were watching an episode of Skins – y’know, one of the ‘darker’ ones. Writer/director Rob Heydon also scraps our Scottish heroine (who in the book was as prominent as the leas role of Lloyd Buist, played by Adam Sinclair) for a po-faced Canadian marionette. Most saddening of all are the frequent city life montages, dominated by wild whip pans towards CCTV cameras sitting atop Edinburgh’s civic buildings. Surveillance! Oppression! Crime! Vague acknowledgement of something for no reason!

Meatballs (1979) – 2/5

Director: Ivan Reitman

Cast: Bill Murray, Kate Lynch, Matt Craven

Meatballs

In a not very good teen comedy film which spawned three gradually worsening sequels, Bill Murray shines as summer group leader Tripper, who leads the poor kids against the rich vacationers of Mohawk camp.Standing out from the rest of the unremarkable cast, Murray goes ballistic with quick fire improvisation, which he was probably allowed to get away with owing to his close friendship with director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters 1 & 2, Kindergarten Cop). Meatballs has a shoddy tone which never strikes the balance between child friendly slapstick (the nerd having a milkshake poured down his head) and borderline X-rated filth (peeping toms and a semi-rape attempt), but Murray’s moments make it not a complete waste of time.

Melancholia (2011) – 4/5

Director: Lars von Trier

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alex Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård

Melancholia1

Lars von Trier’s ‘Depression Trilogy’ was watched by your writer in the most disjointed order possible: Nymphomaniac (number three) was number one, Antichrist (number one) was number two and Melancholia (number two) was number three. This matters not, however, because Melancholia pulls that old Empire Strikes Back doozy and is by far the best of the lot. Kirstent Dunst is the best she has ever been as leading lady Justine, whose spectacular wedding day to the man of her dreams is spoiled by an undetectable air of impending, irrevocable disaster. Charlotte Gainsbourg, the figurehead of von Trier’s two other aforementioned works, is extremely disquieting as Justine’s sister Claire, who is in dire emotional straits at the prospect of Melancholia, the films metaphorical centrepiece. Melancholia is the name of the planet, ‘previously hidden by the sun’, which is now hurtling towards Earth at 60,000 miles an hour on its own loop of our solar system’s star. Scientists know it won’t hit, just as it never has in its thousands, if not millions, of previous trips past Earth. Some people aren’t convinced.

Melancholia2

The physical science behind the Melancholia event is of course nonsensical beyond all reason, but that’s irrelevant – this isn’t some Artsy-mageddon film (although the astral visuals are freaking stunning), this is Lars von Trier. The films titular planet is in fact a symbol of Justine’s (Dunst) all enveloping melancholia, a depressive disorder that can leave one stricken for months or even years at a time. She is the heart of her family, who revolve protectively around her, but since her character thinks – and so believes – that she is totally alone in the universe, it becomes the only truth. Human race’s seemingly inevitable destruction by this giant incoming space ball is actually the looming of her probable suicide, and the end of her suffering. What makes the film so powerful is Melancholia’s terrific performances; it is so easy to be lulled by Kirsten Dunst’s entranced fascination of the planet she knows will spell her doom if she gravitates toward it. When she finds herself in such a precarious situation, total obliteration seems to make a lot of sense. If the film works as it should, then it’ll make sense for the audience too.

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